IPL 2024: Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer guide KKR to easy win against RCB | Cricket

No IPL team had lost at home till Thursday but Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s bowlers grossly erred in their lengths and pace variation as Kolkata Knight Riders rode a fifty from Venkatesh Iyer and a stellar 22-ball 47 from Sunil Narine—playing his 500th T20 match—to coast to a seven-wicket victory at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday.

Kolkata Knight Riders' Sunil Narine plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Kolkata Knight Riders, at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, in Bengaluru(PTI)
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Sunil Narine plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Kolkata Knight Riders, at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, in Bengaluru(PTI)

Virat Kohli anchored RCB’s innings with a 59-ball 83—his second consecutive fifty this IPL—along with contributions from Cameron Green and Glenn Maxwell but it needed an eight-ball 20 from Dinesh Karthik to finish with a semblance of flourish. KKR however came out guns blazing as openers Phil Salt and Sunil Narine put on a stand of 86 before Venkatesh steered them through the middle overs with a responsible fifty that allowed KKR to win with 19 balls to spare.

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Six and a wicket seemed to be the recurrent theme at Chinnaswamy when RCB captain Faf du Plessis and Green fell in similar fashion but Kohli kept the innings together from one end with one of the more curious innings of his career where he missed more than usual. Karthik took a few deliveries to get his eye in before finding his range, clearing long-off, long-on and fine-leg to propel RCB to 182/6. It however did little to paper over the gaping holes in RCB’s scoring graph—61 runs in the Powerplay but 73 in the next nine and 48 in the last at the smallest IPL venue.

Change of pace was at the heart of this downturn for RCB as all their premier batters struggled to put bat to ball on a pitch that was also slower than usual. Slow left-arm bowler Anukul Roy conceded just six off two suffocating overs before Varun Chakaravarthy put the brakes on RCB with a three-run over but it was Andre Russell who rubbed it in with the slower balls that Kohli just wasn’t able to connect. With Green gone after playing an innings-steadying 21-ball 31, Kohli and Maxwell had the time to consolidate and attack.

For the second match in a row Mitchell Starc went wicketless as well as expensive but overall, KKR’s bowling proved to be difficult to score off. Like in the 11th over when Russell’s speed gun readings went from 121 kph to 132 and back to 115 kph, flummoxing Kohli and Maxwell with a phenomenal over that yielded just two runs. Chakaravarthy went 6, 4, 4 in the next over but this time Narine tightened the screws with a five-run over.

Maxwell rode his luck too during this phase, getting dropped twice in the 11th (by Ramandeep Singh) and then again in the 13th over. But Rinku Singh doesn’t drop many and Kohli soon found himself trying to play from both ends before Karthik entered the fray. By then though, Harshit Rana had once again stifled RCB’s progress with a five-run over where his speed never went above 119 kph.

Fifty-one percent of KKR’s deliveries were slower ones but strangely enough, RCB didn’t pick that cue from them. First over, Mohammed Siraj was averaging 135 kph but Salt clobbered him a six and four before muscling his 105 kph slower over long-on for another six. Even quicker was West Indian pacer Alzarri Joseph, clocking 147.4 kph one ball but watching it sail down the leg-side for a massive six.

If Salt liked the ball coming on to his bat, Narine seemed to relish the extra yard of pace even more as started messing with RCB’s plans to such an extent that even their lengths went awry. No one however erred more than Yash Dayal who kept banging short and Narine kept carting him around the ground for a 21-run over that helped KKR finish the Powerplay on 85/0 and set up an easy chase.


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