Pace bowlers operating with intensity and aggression, spinners bamboozling batsmen with their variations. When a team looking to turn its fortunes around faces a destructive opposition, it pays to always think of taking wickets. The approach reaped rich dividends as Royal Challengers Bangalore were bundled out for a mere 92 and Kolkata Knight Riders cantered to a nine-wicket win with as many as 10 overs still left to play. In addition to the two points, the effect it had on net run rate can’t be ignored.
Kolkata Knight Riders, in seventh place at the restart, came out all guns blazing with the ball against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Fast men Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell targeted the rib cage, and when AB de Villiers came to the crease expecting another short one, the West Indian surprised him with a pinpoint yorker first ball which went via the boot to the stumps. Even when Devdutt Padikkal and KS Bharat threatened to be laying a platform for a charge by de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell, KKR didn’t take a backward step. Eoin Morgan’s side needs to win six out of the seven games to get into the reckoning after an underwhelming first phase in the summer. Both batsmen succumbed to balls dug in, and when the spinners came on, RCB’s agony was only compounded.
Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine, while keeping batsmen guessing which way the ball will deviate, never gave the stumps away. That’s why they were always in the game with bowled and LBW options. Chakravarthy almost bagged a hat-trick – denied by an inside edge – and RCB players had very little idea about the former architect’s designs.
It didn’t help RCB’s cause that de Villiers and Maxwell hadn’t played any competitive cricket since the IPL was suspended in May. Padikkal and Bharat showed glimpses of what they are capable of, but with the big guns faltering it was always an uphill battle against a rejuvenated team for whom the enforced break may have been a blessing in disguise.
KKR came into the game with only five specialist bowlers, relying on Russell to get through his full quota, and the ploy worked.