Published On: Sun, Apr 29th, 2018

KKR batting might too much for de Villiers-less RCB

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Kolkata Knight Riders 176 for 4 (Lynn 62, Uthappa 36) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 175 for 4 (Kohli 68*, McCullum 38, Russell 3-31) by six wickets

Kolkata Knight Riders gained two influential advantages without a ball bowled in Bengaluru. First, Dinesh Karthik chose to bowl at a favourable chasing ground. Then, Knight Riders found out that AB de Villiers was out with a viral fever. Both those factors had a decisive impact as Knight Riders chased down 176 with relative ease, with five balls to spare, consigning Royal Challengers to their fifth loss in seven games.

Without their highest run-scorer of the season, Royal Challengers had to employ a less attacking approach, aiming for par or slightly above instead of a 200-plus score, like they did in the previous game against Chennai Super Kings after losing the toss. All they could manage is 175 – the par score in day-night games at this ground was 172 in the IPL since 2015 – even with a terrific, 44-ball 68 from Virat Kohli.

Sussing out conditions

Brendon McCullum was rushed into the XI after de Villiers’ sickness. Quinton de Kock, despite coming off a half-century in the previous game, hadn’t quite found his fluency. For Royal Challengers’ batting line-up, weakened significantly by the loss of their highest run-scorer this season, a strong start was imperative, at least in terms of resources in hand.

Therefore, McCullum and de Kock scored 40 runs in the Powerplay, 11 runs below their average score in the period this season. McCullum soon found his hitting rhythm, with two fours and two sixes in two overs after the Powerplay, lifting the scoring rate to over eight.

Soon after the time-out, though, Royal Challengers lost their way. De Kock holed out to deep cover. McCullum toe-ended a pull to the keeper. Two balls later, Manan Vohra was bowled off the inside edge. A score of 67 for 0 quickly turned to 75 for 3.

Kohli owns the death

De Villiers’ absence also hampered Kohli’s scoring template. Aware that his presence in the death overs could marginally increase the utility of Royal Challengers’ score, Kohli was cautious early in his innings. He took 18 balls to score 20, but with Royal Challengers at 100 for 3 in 14 overs at that point, Kohli couldn’t wait longer.

Royal Challengers hit nine boundaries in six overs thereon; Kohli hit six of them. Royal Challengers scored 75 from there; Kohli hit 48 of them. His innings included three sixes, two of which were a direct result of a strong bottom hand through the line of the ball, hit in the arc between long-on and deep midwicket. Royal Challengers had 175, a score that seemed below par given the ground dimensions.

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