The match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders marked the halfway stage of the league round of the tournament this year. Scheduled at Sharjah, much fireworks were expected of the heavyweights from both sides but only RCB provided them and KKR remained a sorry figure throughout the night. It also made my job simpler because I have to write about only one side as there was nothing much to write about KKR in this game.
#1 Off duty King Kohli
After a decent start from Finch and Padikkal, Kohli was all set to push the scoreboard further. Coming on the back of an excellent match-winning inning against CSK, much was expected of the RCB skipper. But he could not get going against the KKR. It took 25 deliveries to hit his first boundary which is very uncharacteristic of him. Still, he was able to support his partners at the other end through running many doubles, thanks to his supreme fitness.
#2 360 degree mode activated
With Kohli struggling at one end, the onus was on AB de Villiers to lift the scoring rate for RCB. And boy how did he perform! He played shots all around the ground and out of the ground as well hitting the cars on the road bringing the traffic almost to a mini halt. Scoring at a strike rate of 221, he predicted the slower balls rightly, waited for them, and dispatched them way beyond the boundary lines. Along with the power-hitting, his running between the wickets with his BFF Kohli deserves much praise.
#3 Stainless Washy
Washington Sundar has been the pick of the bowlers for RCB this season. Bowling at different junctures in the game, he has never shied away from the challenges, always delivering for his captain and the team. He picks up wickets consistently and an economy of 4.90 in this season is extraordinary for a man who bowls some tough overs in the powerplay as well. He put up yet another brilliant show against KKR squeezing the scoring rate, picking up 2 wickets at an economy of 5, and inducing a run-out as well.
#4 Classy Chahal
Chahal proved once again why he deserves to be in the RCB’s Hall of Fame. He picked up the crucial wicket of in-form Karthik with his slow flight delivery inducing an inside edge onto the stumps. Along with Washington Sundar, he sucked the life out of the KKR’s batting order and completely bossed them. The spinners together bowled 7 overs on the trot in tandem and gave away only 28 runs picking up 3 wickets in the process. That was one hell of a performance from both the spinners, given the dimensions of the ground at Sharjah.
#5 Clueless Karthik
Karthik and his coach McCullum have some tough days ahead as their premier bowler Narine is reported for his bowling action and they cannot him feature consistently in the playing XI going ahead. Also, with Russel and Morgan not firing with the bat as KKR would like to, the pressure is on the other Indian batsmen to perform better. With the pitches getting slower and slower as the days pass by, the team must also find a way to squeeze another spinner in the playing XI in absence of Narine.
With the 82 runs victory margin, it was an emphatic win for RCB boosting their NRR which was in dire straits before this game and it is now the only thing separating them from the top two teams MI and DC. The team looks more solid now with the addition of Morris, bolstering their bowling attack adding more to the team balance. If the batting and bowling units fire in unison consistently for RCB going forward, they may get their hands on the much-awaited IPL trophy at last in this eventful year of 2020.