A Sunil Narine inspired Kolkata Knight Riders ensured that Virat Kohli’s last match as Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper would end in a defeat, recording a four-wicket victory in the IPL Eliminator at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Chasing 139, KKR needed seven needed off the last over. But Shakib Al Hasan scooped the first ball from Dan Christian over short fine-leg for four. The rest of the chase was academic as Eoin Morgan’s side set-up a Qualifier 2 clash with Delhi Capitals on Wednesday.
Earlier in the evening, Narine bowled four outstanding overs (4/21), which included a three-over second spell of 3-0-17-3 during which he dismissed Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell.
Then, in a brilliant display of his secondary skill (26, 15b), the Trinidadian turned the match on its head with three sixes in a single over. At 80 for three, and Yuzvendra Chahal (4-0-16-2) and Harshal Patel (4-0-19-2) bowling well, KKR had appeared to be in a spot of bother.
But Narine wielded the long handle to great effect to send Christian soaring over the square leg boundary twice and over long-off once.
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With 15 needed from three, Mohammed Siraj bowled a splendid 18th over to bring RCB back, rearranging Narine’s stumps and having Dinesh Karthik caught behind. But it proved just a minor wobble.
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After electing to bat first, Kohli (39, 33b, 5×4) and Devdutt Padikkal (21, 18b, 2×4) were off to a rollicking start, putting on 49 off just 31 balls. Padikkal feasted on Lockie Ferguson’s pace, guiding one over short third-man and glancing the other past short fine-leg. An inside-out loft over cover off Shivam Mavi was Kohli’s stand-out shot.
But Ferguson forced Padikkal to play on at the start of the sixth over. The wicket stemmed the run flow and RCB didn’t hit a single four from overs five to 10 as Narine, Varun Chakravarthy (4-0-20-0) and Shakib (4-0-24-0) suffocated the batters.
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Narine, in particular, was outstanding between overs 13 and 17, helping to reduce RCB from 88 for two to 112 for five. That not a single six was hit during the entire innings and Maxwell scored at less than run a ball told the story.
Maxwell tried to break out of the shackles with a switch-hit four off Shakib. Kohli then used his bottom hand to flick Ferguson to the deep mid-wicket fence. But Narine castled him, as Kohli missed the ball completely while trying to heave one.
de Villiers didn’t last long, bowled through the gate by Narine for 11. Maxwell soon followed him into the dugout after a wild slog against Narine took the edge and landed in the hands of Ferguson at short third-man.
That left the RCB lower middle-order with a little too much to do and the side duly fell short.