There were many KKR-RCB encounters in the past that would bring alternate reactions from die-hard fans but one thread has remained constant all throughout. It has always been one side dominating the other in such a fashion that would leave a fan wondering if it was the same side that played even a day ago. On Monday, both sides resumed their rivalry at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi and an authoritative Kolkata Knight Riders bossed Royal Challengers Bangalore from the beginning to the end to record a convincing nine-wicket win.
Showing serious intent after their mediocre outing in the first phase of the league earlier this year, the Knight Riders bowlers fired in unison to bundle out Royal Challengers for a paltry 92. Then, the opening duo of Shubman Gill and debutant Venkatesh Iyer played some breathtaking shots and made light work of the chase of 93, completing the formality with as many as 10 overs to spare. The supremely talented Gill got out for a 48 off 34 deliveries while Iyer, who could have been a successful management professional after finishing his MBA in finance and giving up a placement as a tax consultant, was looking good on a 27-ball 41 not out when the winning run was hit.
The result will not just boost their morale immensely but also improve KKR's net run rate going ahead. Opening the bowling, architect-turned-mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy (3/13) did the star turn with three wickets in an excellent four-over spell. Star all-rounder Andre Russell (3/9 in three overs) also bagged three wickets, including AB de Villiers' golden duck, while there were two for Lockie Ferguson.
Devdutt Padikkal was the highest scorer with 22 runs in a forgettable outing in skipper Virat Kohli's 200th game for RCB. Bowling the day's second over, right-arm medium pacer Prasidh Krishna dealt RCB a big blow when he had Virat Kohli trapped in front of wicket with his fourth delivery that jagged in and hit him above the knee-roll.
Having completed a double century of matches for RCB, Kohli went for a review but the ball-tracking technology confirmed that it was going on to hit the stumps. This was immediately after Kohli sent a Krishna delivery in front of square on the off-side for a lovely four. New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson replaced Chakravarthy and the gifted Devdutt Padikkal smashed the pacer straight over his head to get things moving for RCB.
Krishna bowled back-to-back no balls (one front foot and one beamer) in the next over and while debutant Srikar Bharat failed to break the shackles, Padikkal capitalised on the extra delivery with a boundary. KKR skipper Eoin Morgan made another bowling change by bringing in Sunil Narine and while the Trinidadian spinner could not get a breakthrough in his first over, Ferguson succeeded in his second when he had Padikkal caught behind when the batsman tried to play the ball fine past the keeper despite hardly getting any room to execute the ramp shot.
Russell ended Bharat's stay in the middle as the pressure mounted on the batsman. And then came the biggest blow for RCB when Russell bowled AB de Villiers for a first-ball duck with a top-notch yorker targeting the leg-stump.
RCB were in all sorts of trouble at 52 for four in the ninth over and it became only worse for them with the departure of Glenn Maxwell, who brought his own downfall with a needless heave against Chakravarthy's tossed-up delivery, and Wanindu Hasaranga, the team's another debutant, getting out cheaply.
Both the batsmen were dismissed off successive balls on a surface that was on the slower side, something that Kohli talked about after opting to bat at the toss.
Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore: 92 in 19 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 22, KS Bharat 16; Andre Russell 3 for 9) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders: 94 for 1 in 10 overs (Shubman Gill 48, Venkatesh Iyer 41*; Yuzvendra Chahal 1 for 23) by 9 wickets
Player of the match: Varun Chakravarthy