Defending a paltry 128 at the very venue that saw 200-plus being chased comfortably only three nights earlier, Kolkata Knight Riders did not give up. Led by their India star bowler Umesh Yadav, KKR gave Royal Challengers Bangalore a run for their money by picking up three early wickets in the Power Play to reduce the Faf du Plessis-led team to 36 runs in six overs.
Like he did in the first match of the season against Chennai Super Kings last Saturday, Yadav picked up two wickets including that of the immediate-past India and RCB captain, Virat Kohli, extracting bounce from the DY Patil Stadium surface and taking the outside edges. The Vidarbha right-arm pacer dismissed left-hander Anuj Rawat for a second-ball nought and then Kohli in his second over for 12.
Kohli began with a placement through the gaps on the off-side off Yadav and a flick for fours off his India team-mate. However, Yadav had the last laugh in his next over. In between, RCB lost du Plessis to New Zealander Tim Southee, the batsman trying to work the right-armer on the on-side only to take the edge to point fielder Ajinkya Rahane.
Though KKR picked up wickets even after Power Play, the target was too small to defend as the left-handed batsman from the West Indies, Sherfane Rutherford, played sensibly to steer RCB to a three-wicket victory, just that he did not stay till the end. Batting like a rock from third over till his dismissal for 28 in the 18th over, Rutherford held the RCB innings together. Fellow-left-hander from Bengal, Shahbaz Ahmed, pulled Andre Russell for two sixes in the innings’ 13th over to ease the tension in the RCB dug out.
Ahmed shone in the 39-run partnership with Rutherford, hitting three sixes in his 27. And, RCB were eventually seen through with their finisher Dinesh Karthik going out when 28 were needed off the last four overs. Karthik stayed till the end even as Southee picked up Rutherford and Wanindu Hasaranga in the 18th over to give KKR one last hope.
A run out chance missed by KKR in the 19th over with Karthik and No. 8 Harshal Patel finishing at the same end added to the tension. However, it was eased with Patel picking up two fours off Venkatesh Iyer, a scoop over the wicketkeeper and a slap through the wide gap on the on-side. And, Karthik’s pull for six over square-leg and a drive down the ground off the first two balls of the 20th over sent down by Russell fetched RCB their first win of the season.
Earlier, choosing to bowl after winning the toss, RCB began tidily, keeping the KKR openers Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer at bay. RCB new ball bowlers, left-arm medium-pacer David Willey of England and India’s Md Siraj did not allow the openers to take off in an attacking fashion. Though the first three overs took KKR to 14/0, Rahane and Venkatesh did not really get going. Even KKR captain Shreyas Iyer did not last long, falling for 13. In fact, none of the KKR top-order looked to bat deep.
No top six KKR batsmen crossed 15 as RCB leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga mixed his leg-spinners and googlies to take four wickets for 20 and medium-pacer Harshal Patel bowled two rare wicket maidens to put the brakes on the KKR innings.