KKR end RCB's IPL dream
Kolkata through to the second qualifier by beating RCB by 4 wickets with 2 balls to spare. Virat signoff RCB captaincy
Another year. Another disappointment. But this year the hopes of winning were different. This was the last season that Virat was to captain RCB. Not only the fans of RCB, but the Indian cricket fans as a whole were hoping for a win for Virat and his team.
With the world cup to begin in a week, this would've been a perfect stepping stone for him. But it wasn't to be. Virat Kohli finished his captaincy career in the IPL without the elusive trophy. And that's how it'll be.
This is what happens when you don't finish in the top two. One bad day and your domination in the previous 14 games go in vain. That loss against the Sunrisers in their second last game would be dearly hurting now for the RCB team.
Winning the toss in a big game, Kohli decided to have a bat. Runs on the board in a big game might've been his mantra behind this decision. It seemed as if both teams had worked out that scoring runs in the powerplay and keeping things tight in the middle overs was the key here on this slow and sluggish Sharjah wicket. And so the battle began.
Padikkal and Kohli got off the blocks quickly. Literally and figuratively. Apart from getting timely boundaries, they never missed an opportunity on a tiny little opportunity for a run. They frustrated the inner ring fielders and put a lot of pressure on them. With the score nearing 50 within 5, RCB had passed the first hurdle. But on the first delivery off the sixth, Lockie Ferguson got rid of Padikkal who inside-edged one onto his stumps, going for an expansive drive outside off.
Once the powerplay ended, it was a boundary drought for RCB. The previous game's hero, KS Bharath, struggled hard to even hit the ball off the square. In this partnership, where the pair added 20 off 27 deliveries, there were more runs of inside edges compared to the ones of the middle. That's how hard it was, to get the big hits in the middle overs.
Sunil Narine wasn't brought into the attack till the ninth over. This was an odd move from Morgan, because usually Narine starts fairly early. Coming in at 10th over, Sunil Narine changed the whole complexion of the game, which he then did the same with the bat later. Narine ended Bharath's misery at the crease for the first of the day. It was a blessing in disguise for the RCB as Bharath was all at sea in his stay at the crease where he scored 9 off 16. Kohli too was struggling to get going at the other end, but the aggressive start early on, helped him with his overall strike rate.
RCB were in desperate need of another one of Maxi's special to revive this innings. But even in form, high flying, Glenn Maxwell too struggled like anything.
After getting a couple of boundaries away, this pair looked promising to take the innings forward. But Narine was in no mood to let any of the RCB batters play freely. He cleaned up Virat with a beautiful off spinner. In what turned out to be his final game as captain, Virat could only manage 39. AB came in and looked in good flow right away. He reverse swept one for four and things again looked promising. But Narine was in no mood to stop. In what looked like the biggest moment of the first innings, he got rid of AB with another simple off spinner, which took AB's pad before smashing the stumps. The whole of RCB and even ABD himself hoped for a big one in this innings, after several failures previously. But it wasn't to be.
To pile on the misery, even more, Narine removed the last hope of RCB to a big score, Glenn Maxwell. He finished his spell with figures of 4-0-21-4. He turned out to be a true big match player. The lower order wagged a little and brought the score to 138.
KKR had similar plans with the bat to go aggressive up top inside the powerplay, after seeing RCB's struggles in the middle overs. And they went at a better rate than their counterparts. Gill in particular, was putting on a show, by using his feet and disrupting the bowler's lengths. Virat had to bring Harshal Patel inside the powerplay before the game went out of hands. And Harshal didn't disappoint as he rarely done this season. He got rid of Gill on 29.
Once the powerplay was done, RCB slowly crawled back into the game. Courtesy of some outstanding bowling from Chahal and Patel, RCB put a break to the run flow. Chahal trapped Tripathi right in front, but only to be given not out by the umpire. The keeper and the bowler were so sure, and they got their reward by the help of a review. Iyer too got out in the next over, trying to break shackles, hitting one straight up in the air off Patel. RCB were surely back in the game.
In a surprise move, KKR sent Sunil Narine in at 5 to cash in against the fifth bowler of RCB. And what a master stroke it proved to be. In only one over of Christian, Narine, as he did with his bowling, turned the game on its head. Sunil Narine smashed three sixes in this over and they stole 22 off it. In a game where the batters were gaining momentum with quick singles, this assault from Narine was just out of the world. It was not just a momentum shift. It was a total turn of events.
The run ball difference was huge. In the reverse fashion. Shoulders started dropping for RCB. But there was one hope, in the name of Harshal Patel. After all his heroics throughout the tournament, Virat and RCB again needed him to get them out of trouble. And once again he answered. Not with a wicket though. But by bowling a tight over that went for three. With all this madness at the other end, Rana was struggling at the other end. Chahal made most of his struggles and got him with a googly. And there was a little sign of things turning again. But it was a far cry.
In the eighteenth over, with 15 to get off 18, Mohammed Siraj bowled an unbelievable over and made the whole of RCB believe again. He got two set batsmen out of Narine and Kartik and gave just three runs. Just three. The game once again was in, shall we say, balance. But KKR still had two recognised batters at the crease in Morgan and Shakib. With seven to get off last, Virat once again had to throw the ball in the hands of Dan Christian.
When Shakib scooped the first delivery of the last over for a four-over short fine, RCB's fate was sealed. A tiny little hope that had resurfaced due to some excellent performance from Siraj and Patel, was diminished. And KKR were through to the second qualifier without much trouble, courtesy of one man, Sunil Narine.
Brief Scores: RCB138/7 in 20 overs (Kohli 39; Narine 4-21) lost to KKR 139/6 in 19.4 overs Gill 29, Narine 26; Chahal 2-16, Siraj 2-19) by 4 wickets