Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - KKR let out a war cry and bury the ghosts of 84/8. De Villiers was cleaned up for a first-ball duck by Andre Russell.
De Villiers was cleaned up for a first-ball duck by Andre Russell.
October 21, 2020. It's been 11 months since the nightmare of 84 for 8 for Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi. In hindsight, that performance against the Royal Challengers Bangalore also may have cost them a playoff berth because of the damage done to the net run rate. It was their second big loss against Virat Kohli's men – the previous being by 82 runs – and those two performances eventually proved to be fatal.
RCB have had the wood over KKR in their recent performances with four consecutive wins. The last time KKR had won over Kohli's men was in 2019 – in Bengaluru – when Andre Russell's knock helped his side chase down 205 with five balls to spare. The memories of 49 all out, or Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine smashing the RCB bowlers all over the park are now a thing of the past and KKR haven't quite managed to put a dominating performance against RCB in their last five matches.
On Monday (September 20), however, they turned the tide and in some style. After RCB were knocked over for 94 – their third time making less than 100 against KKR – Mike Hesson had no hesitation in admitting that they had made a mistake at the toss. And yet, to think of it, RCB were 41 for 1 in 5.5 overs at one stage. Varun Chakravarthy was once against exceptional with figures of 4-0-13-3, but on the night it was the pacers who set up the win.
Eoin Morgan, as captain, backs his bowlers to come on top when favourable matchups turn up. When the two sides met last in Chennai, it was Chakravarthy who left RCB struggling at 9 for 2. Morgan once again turned to Chakravarthy to start against Kohli. The RCB captain, though, fell lbw to Prasidh Krishna in the second over. Devdutt Padikkal and Srikar Bharat did manage to give the side a decent powerplay despite not looking comfortable against the pacers.
When Lockie Ferguson dismissed Padikkal on the last ball of the powerplay, RCB still had the likes of AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell to come and build the innings. RCB were 53 for 1 in eight overs when Andre Russell turned things around for KKR. Bharat mistimed a short ball to the midwicket fielder to fall for an extremely scratchy 16 off 19 on debut. With de Villiers in next, Morgan's plan would have been simple – try and turn to Chakravarthy who had bowled just one over till then. Instead, he saw Russell (3-0-9-3) nip out the de Villiers threat on the first ball.
De Villiers, expecting the usual back-of-length ball from Russell, had walked over to cover his stump to try and tuck the ball to the on side. Instead, the pacer got it full and just outside the leg stump. De Villiers missed the flick only to see his boot deflect the ball back to his stumps. It was the first time since IPL 2016 that de Villiers had bagged a golden duck. It was also the third-lowest aggregate (5) by Kohli and AB de Villiers for RCB. At 52 for 4, with a thin lower order to follow, RCB knew they were in big trouble.
KKR, having picked five frontline bowlers and a debuting allrounder in Venkatesh Iyer, knew they had to use their resources better. Russell, in the previous seven games, had bowled just three overs in the middle overs and was used as a death bowler. On the night, him chipping in with the wicket of de Villiers ensured KKR could quickly get on top and the spinners were able to control things better. With Russell and Chakravarthy helping the side pick 6 for 25 in the middle overs, they managed to bury RCB.
The last time in Chennai, Morgan took out Chakravarthy from the attack and allowed Maxwell to settle in first and then run riot. In Abu Dhabi, Maxwell had looked extremely frustrated with his rhythm and had huffed and puffed to 9 off 15 by the time the 11th over had ended. That turned out to be the perfect time for Morgan to bring Chakravarthy back and the plan worked. Maxwell, looking to slog his way to glory, was bowled for 10 off 17. Chakravarthy then trapped Wanindu Hasaranga first ball to leave RCB gasping.
“The matchups we tried today really worked,” Morgan said post the game about his moves. “The pitch – the way it played throughout the innings – was more seamer-friendly. Even though Varun had an incredible day, it lent itself to the seamers. Maxwell, AB, Virat – we managed to get on top of all of them, it's very rare as well. RCB started well, but taking a wicket at the backend of the PP changed things for us. Collectively, we took valuable wickets. We haven't turned up for the majority of the tournament, but today was a great start.”
As KKR built up for the restart, both Morgan and the think tank had adopted a cautious approach towards dealing with expectations. While Morgan stressed they “control everything from here on in”, David Hussey insisted they are free because “they have nothing to lose”. Within the camp, the players were desperate to right the wrongs of the first half. They were desperate to announce a revival.
While KKR are still far from their goal of making the playoffs – with five wins still needed in the next six matches – they've made a bold statement. They've not only buried the haunting memories of 84 for 8 but also have let out a war cry.