Sunil Narine’s all-round show knocks out RCB as the KKR dream run goes on
This IPL is reviving old memories. A day after Mahendra Singh Dhoni the finisher once again came to the fore, it was vintage Sunil Narine who led from the front to help Kolkata Knight Riders beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets in the Eliminator in Sharjah on Monday. KKR will now play Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2 on Wednesday.
The West Indian’s all-round show, however, ended Virat Kohli’s dream of winning the IPL as a skipper as he has decided to step down after this edition.
Coming into the attack in the 10th over of the RCB innings after Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first, he not only put the break on the run-rate, but also picked up a wicket in each of his four overs.
He later played the role of a pinch-hitter to perfection, smashing three sixes off Daniel Christian’s first over to collect 22 runs to tilt the match in KKR’s favour.
It was heartbreak for RCB’s Harshal Patel who could have ended as IPL’s highest wicket-taker in a season, had Devdutt Padikkal not grounded a skier off Narine. The pacer ended with 32 wickets to tie with Dwayne Bravo, who bagged the same number of wickets in 2013.
KKR’s decision not to risk their star allrounder Andre Russell was vindicated as the KKR’s spinning trio of Narine, Varun Chakaravarthy and Shakib Al Hasan choked the opposition.
RCB, who raced to 53 for one in the first six overs, ended up at 138 for seven mainly due to some tight bowling in the middle overs. Runs started to dry up after the powerplay when 17 runs came in the next four overs as KKR gave away just 85 runs picking up six wickets in the next 14 overs.
The fact that a side which includes some of the biggest hitters of world cricket like Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, ended up without a single six, spoke volumes of the quality of attack on the day.
Narine began with having RCB’s last-match hero KS Bharat, who struggled to get nine runs playing 16 deliveries, caught at long-off boundary by Iyer. He then picked up the prized scalps of Kohli, De Villiers and Maxwell in his subsequent three overs. The spinner castled Kohli, getting one through his bat and pad as the RCB skipper tried to break free. De Villiers reverse swept Narine for a four in the same over, but the spinner struck back having the South African bowled with a beauty that kissed the batsman’s pad before dislodging the stumps.
Narine added to his tally dangerman Maxwell who top edged one to Ferguson at short third man while going for a wild swing.
The allrounder, who ended with four for 21, acknowledged the role of his spinning partners although Shakib and Chakravarthy returned wicketless. “I think bowling in tandem with quality spinners makes it easier. Today there was more grip than the last game, so the spinners did a good job,” he said after the innings. RCB batters managed just 65 runs from the 12 overs of spin in their innings.