During the entire tenure of the game on Thursday night, Kolkata Knight Riders never looked like the side, which could take the victory away from Royal Challengers Bangalore. Even at the start of the last over, they had the accomplished South African duo of AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel, who are gifted with the capability of finishing the game as victors. But the vagaries of T20 cricket came to the fore, as RCB transformed from certain winners to the last-ball losers.
Virat Kohli won the toss for RCB and asked KKR to bat first. His decision brought immediate reward as the first wicket fell on the third ball of the day. Gautam Gambhir reached a duck-hat-trick but this time his dismissal showed a clear loss of form. It was an express delivery from Mitchell Starc, directed between the middle and leg stump. Instead, the ball found Gambhir plumb in front, as he lazily tried to flick it on the leg side. The next man Manish Pandey faced Albie Morkel’s first over and second of the innings. Pandey lasted just a few deliveries, scored a boundary and fell to a leading edge that went to Kohli for a simplest of catches. It was an early setback for KKR to be reduced to 10/2 but Jacques Kallis and newcomer Christopher Lynn scored briskly and took the score to 90, before Lynn got out in the 12th over. Lynn scored 45 off 31-ball, including 3 fours and 3 sixes. Lynn specially singled out Muthaiya Muralitharan, who was belted for 25 in his first two overs. After Lynn’s departure, KKR innings was further jolted, first when Yusuf Pathan got out for a duck after facing 2 balls and again when Kallis departed to make it 107/5 for KKR in the 16th over. After this only Robin Uthappa and Surya Kumar Yadav played with some credit and helped KKR in reaching 150/7 at the end of the 20th over.
For RCB, 151 was not a great target. Their openers began very well to put on 67 for the first wicket by the 8th over. For the third time this season, Parthiv Patel played another good innings providing the necessary support to his more belligerent partner Yogesh Takawale, who scored 40 off 28 balls, before both openers got out at the same score. Kohli carried on with Yuvraj Singh to add 55 for the third wicket. At 122/3, RCB just required 29 runs in 25 balls to record their third straight victory in as many matches but in a bizarre turn of events, the RR bowlers and fielders put timely pressure on RCB batsmen. Yuvraj Singh is yet to come to terms with his floundering form and he scored 31 with less than 100% strike rate, before getting out. Since Ab de Villiers was still there, RCB held the upper hand even at this stage. 9 runs were needed in the last over but with Villiers out in the middle, it did not look difficult. 3 runs were scored off the first 3 balls of Vinay Kumar’s last over. On the fourth delivery, de Villiers hoisted Vinay Kumar over the deep mid-wicket. Chris Lynn positioned himself for the catch but initially could not judge the trajectory so well. Despite slipping once, Lynn adjusted himself once again and brought off one of the greatest catches ever seen. On the last ball, RCB still had the chance as only 4 runs were required but Vinay Kumar was in no mood to give in. he only allowed a single and KKR won the match by 2 runs. Chris Lynn, who top-scored with 45 and took a blinder of a catch in the last over, was the worthy winner of the player of the match award.
There is an interesting double header on April 25 at the Dubai Internation Cricket Stadium, where the first match will be played between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils in the afternoon. The second match at DSC in the evening will feature Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.
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