After the tussle between the top two teams in the Qualifier-1 between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals, Chennai made it to their ninth final and Delhi had to settle in for a second chance. However, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator had only one way. Either win to fight another day or lose and crash out.
On the other hand, the match result would have decided whether Virat Kohli would be stepping out as the Bangalore captain for another match or this match would be the last of it. After winning the toss, Kohli wanted his team to put the total on board and apply the scoreboard pressure. But, it panned out differently. They got the perfect start to put runs on board when they scored 53/1 in the powerplay. Then came the strangle-hold from the Kolkata spinners in the middle overs. In the nine overs phase, Bangalore batsmen posted 55 runs and lost three wickets. Losing wickets at one end and the treachery of Kolkata spinners was too much for them to handle. They crawled to a score of 138/7 as the spin wizard Sunil Narine, bagged 4/21. The Kolkata spinners gave away only 65 runs in their 12 overs.
In the chase, Kolkata openers Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer, got off to a decent start before the Purple Cap holder, Harshal Patel struck in the last over of the powerplay. Despite losing Gill, Kolkata posted 48 runs in the first six overs. Yuzvendra Chahal in his first over – seventh over – struck gold as he dismissed Rahul Tripathi. Iyer was packed off in the tenth over by Harshal. Bangalore bowlers had control of the game until Narine broke free in the 12th over. In the first three balls he faced, he handed Kolkata the match by smashing three sixes. In the end, Kolkata managed to achieve the target in the last over and set a date against Delhi in the Qualifier-2. Also, their win saw the last of Kohli as Bangalore skipper in the IPL. Here are some of the notable stats from Eliminator of the IPL 2021:
Kohli hits his 900th four
Kohli was the top scorer of Bangalore in their match against Kolkata. In fact, his knock of 39 runs was the only 30+ score in this match. En route to a valuable contribution, Kohli achieved a rare feat as he smashed his 900th boundary across T20 matches. The 32-year old became the second player among Indians after Shikhar Dhawan to hit 900 fours in the shortest format of the game. The southpaw is on top of the list with 986 boundaries, followed by Kohli and Rohit Sharma with 830.
Narine weaves his magic with 8th four-wicket haul
There are few bowlers against whom batsmen are still trying to decode and Narine is one amongst them. Throughout his IPL career, starting from 2012, the mystery spinner has been a part of the Kolkata setup. With 141 wickets to his name, he has the second most wickets for a team in IPL. Those 141 wickets include eight four+ wicket hauls, the most for a bowler in the IPL. He surpassed Lasith Malinga’s tally of seven in his match against Bangalore.
Second instance of a team failing to hit a six in an innings
One of the talking points in this edition of the IPL has been the surface on offer at Sharjah. On a sluggish surface with three spinners, Kolkata stemmed the flow of runs in the middle overs and picked up crucial wickets to dent Bangalore’s batting. Though the ground dimensions are smaller, Bangalore batsmen found it difficult to clear the boundary. Hence, they became the second team in IPL after Delhi, who failed to hit a six in the innings. Interestingly, in both the matches, Kolkata was the bowling team.
Narine stamps his authority on Kohli and AB de Villiers
Among the four wickets Narine picked, the two big fish of Bangalore batting unit, Kohli and AB de Villiers were also his prey. Kohli’s last dismissal against Narine in any format of the game came in 2014 at Eden Gardens. In the same match, Narine had bagged both Kohli and de Villiers. This match was the second instance of Narine dismissing both in the same match in IPL. Only two other bowlers have dismissed both batsmen in the same match two or more times. Shreyas Gopal with three instances and Ashish Nehra twice. To add on, this was the sixth time in the IPL against Kolkata, both Kohli and de Villiers have fallen prey for the same bowler, the most against a team for the duo.
Kohli ends his season on high
The captain inside Kohli might have wanted the season to end better, but the batsman in Kohli ended the season on a better note. Kohli scored 405 runs in 15 innings at an average of 28.9, to put in Kohli’s standard, a decent season with the bat. This was the eighth IPL season in which Kohli has scored over 400 runs. He is now equaled with Dhawan in the list of batsmen with most 400+ runs seasons. Only Suresh Raina has achieved it nine times.
A drop denies Harshal registering a record season
Padikkal might be the sorriest player among the Bangalore outfit in their loss against Kolkata. In the 16th over of Kolkata’s chase, Padikkal dropped Narine off the first ball. This drop denied Harshal’s record breaking 33rd wicket of the season. Nevertheless, Harshal has had a hellacious season. With 32 wickets in the IPL 2021, Harshal is the joint highest wicket taker in a season of IPL alongside Dwayne Bravo in 2013. In terms of bowling average, Harshal is ahead of Bravo.
The match winner
Four wickets with the ball in hand and a 15-ball 26, out of which 19 runs came in one over. With an all-round performance like this, it is hard to look past anyone other than Narine as the Player of the Match. In IPL 2021, this was Narine’s third Player of the Match award and the 12th for Kolkata in the IPL. He went past his fellow West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell (11) in the tally of Player of the Match awards for Kolkata in the IPL.
Boom-boom-boom goes Narine
With his help, Kolkata had managed to restrict Bangalore for just 138. When he came to bat in the 11th over, Kolkata required 60 runs off 54 balls. But, at the end of the 12th over, the required run rate had come down to 4.8 from 6.7 and that was all thanks to Narine’s three sixes against Daniel Christian. The freaking aspect was, he hit all of those in the first three balls he faced. This was the first ever time in IPL, a batsman had hit three sixes of his first three balls.