Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers’ expertly assembled 108-run partnership was condemned to becoming a side note as Andre Russell launched a stunning assault on Tim Southee to help KKR chase down a target of 206 with five balls to spare. Russell came on strike in the second ball of the 19th over having already made 20 off eight balls and KKR needing 29 to win off 11. He struck off 28 of those runs off the next five balls hitting three sixes on the trot, a four and then a six again.
Toss: KKR had won the toss and chosen to bowl first
First innings: RCB got off to a good start with Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel ensuring that they cross the 50-run mark in the powerplay overs and not lose a wicket. The opening stand ended in the eighth over when Parthiv was trapped in front of the stumps by Nitish Rana. But then, RCB fans got what they wanted when AB de Villiers stuck with Kohli and the pair went about dismantling the KKR bowling line up.
Kohli and de Villiers hammered the bowlers at will, recreating the magic they have woven many times in the past. During his sublime knock, Kohli also overtook Suresh Raina to becoming leading run-getter in IPL history besides completing 8000 runs in T20 cricket. The RCB skipper hit some beautiful cover drives early on and his innings comprised nine fours and two sixes. De Villiers too was in his element, smashing five fours and four maximums. Kohli was finally out in the 18th over off Kuldeep Yadav as he hit the ball straight into the bowler’s hands. He was particularly severe on Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Fergusson and Nitesh Rana. De Villiers played second fiddle to Kohli before cutting loose to produce some massive hits. In the last over, Marcus Stoinis belted 18 runs off Prasidh with the help of two boundaries and a six, pushing the total past the 200-run mark.
Second innings: KKR were kept alive in the chase through opener Chris Lynn (43 off 31), Robbie Uthappa (33 off 25) and Nitish Rana (37 off 23) before Russell singlehandedly got the job done in the death overs. A pedestrian bowling effort from RCB pacers also helped KKR’s cause. RCB spinners Pawan Negi (2/21) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1/24) bowled well and were able to generate sharp turn, putting brakes on the KKR scoring rate. KKR were kept alive in the chase through opener Chris Lynn (43 off 31), Robbie Uthappa (33 off 25) and Nitish Rana (37 off 23) before Russell singlehandedly got the job done in the death overs.
Needing 66 runs off 24 balls, KKR were up against it before Russell came in and smashed an unbeaten 48 off 13 balls to complete the job with five balls to spare. His breathtaking knock comprised seven sixes and one four.
Gamechanger: Had Russell not done what he had, there were a number of flashpoints in a match that ebbed and flowed. Kohli’s dismissal and De Villiers’ shortly after that were important moments as it looked like the pair might take RCB past 220 at the point of their dismissals. Had RCB managed to defend this total, Marcus Stoinis smashing 18 runs off the last over would have been another potential gamechanger. But Russell has made it all look like child’s play and his 13-ball innings towers above the rest of the game.
Captains Speak –
Virat Kohli: “The last four overs, the way we bowled, we deserve to lose. If you bowl with not enough bravery in the crunch overs, then you will always struggle against power-hitters like Russell. We cracked a bit under pressure, and that’s the only story. Had we got 20-25 more, maybe it would have helped. But if you can’t defend 75 in the last four overs, then I don’t know if you can defend 100. We just didn’t have enough composure. We have a bit of a chat about what went wrong, but apart from that, there’s nothing much you can say. It’s been a disappointing season, but we have to believe we can turn things around.”
Dinesh Karthik: “(On conversation with Russell) I think you don’t talk too much. He goes out there, and he’s happy and gives his best for the team. The ball was gripping, especially with the ball turning away from you. As much as Andre has been batting well, we need to look at our bowling better. We are planning right, but we need to execute better. The way Lynny batted was good to see.”