Not much of a surprise that the RCB didn’t begin their IPL 2018 challenge on a winning note, was it? So often in the past and true to their petulant approach of somehow scampering home in earlier stages, the RCB made a complete mess of their maiden game against KKR. Only this time, they realised that they were at Eden Gardens.
176 wasn’t a slack score until KKR took it on
Allowing KKR to literally stroll past what had at one stage seemed a hefty total- for usually- 176 is always a good score, the RCB, led by poor, flawed bowling allowed KKR to knock them down in their maiden IP 2018 contest.
But you’d have to contend that at one stage, staring at the run chase’ scorecard that revealed the highest score as 50 and no more, the eventual success did sound a bit confusing. But all confusion recedes when one understands that there were two gritty knocks in KKR’s middle order.
Buoyed by captain Dinesh Karthik’s weighty 35 not out and helped further by talented all rounder Nitish Rana’s 34, it wasn’t too hard to understand that how did the Knights dig a hole in their opponents’ hopes. But in enabling KKR to overcome RCB’ 176, the most runs coming off McCullum’s blade, the real fireworks belonged to West Indian Sunil Narine.
Narine, the batsman
In bringing up another match-winning fifty, Narine- who was earlier just a mystery spinner and is now a prominent big striker- exploded at the top order. He was harsh on Chahal and Washington Sundar in particular, reaching his fifty off just 17 balls. A world record then that he’s become the only player to notch up his second IPL fifty in seventeen balls or less. By the time the 6th over of KKR’s pursuit of 177 started, they had already scored 65, with Woakes, Sundar and, Chahal being sent over the ropes with great disdain and what was undeniably a very Caribbean kind of reggae-hitting.
What RCB lacked
Sadly, such stupendous exploits couldn’t be seen from the likes of Kohli and de Kock, the duo contributing 31 and 4 respectively. It was quite a strange start from RCB’s perspective. After de Kock’s second over dismissal, while McCullum found it easy to dance down to KKR bowlers in lifting them over long on for fours and sixes, Kohli found himself tongue-tied and conflicted by the likes of Narine and Chawla, two of the finest IPL spinners.
Even as Virat late-cut a few balls and swept some to bring up 31 hard-fought runs, real fireworks were bludgeoned from De Villiers’ bat, who was experimental and agricultural in bringing up 44 valuable runs. But credit must go to Nitish Rana from KKR- another star all rounder, another offie who can scalp big wickets (as he did in one over removing Kohli and AB) and smoke fiery sixes who came to the party.
KKR: Team effort pays off
At one stage it just didn’t seam if RCB would notch up what they eventually did had it not been for the rescue work of Mandeep Singh. Back in 2015, Singh, an ever dependable right-armer clubbed a 45 off just 18 against KKR. This time, he was on the money again, scoring 37 off just 18. In striking two valuable sixes and four boundaries he would provide respite to an ailing scorecard.
You could say, in their chase, even as quick wickets fell in the middle order, Nitish Rana did a Mandeep Singh redo in holding his nerve and scoring a valuable partnership with Karthik as big fella Russell and earlier Uthappa receded to the dugout.
KKR’s win speaks of great team balance and the sense of camaraderie the unit enjoys, seemingly relishing from one another’s triumphs. The same could augur well for RCB, provided they can emulate KKR’s style of stitching individual performances and amplifying them to the team’s cause instead of being overly reliant on Kohli and AB.