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Cricket news - Clinical RCB complete Chepauk hat-trick

RCB completed the Chennai leg of their campaign with another win to go top of the table.

RCB completed the Chennai leg of their campaign with another win to go top of the table.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's promising start to IPL 2021 continued as they completed the Chennai leg of their campaign with another win to go top of the table. Having already won their first two games at this venue, RCB put on a masterclass once again, this time against Kolkata Knight Riders. Aided by sparkling half-centuries from Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, they posted a massive total on the board with the bowling attack delivering the goods in the second half on Sunday (April 18).

KKR conquer the powerplay

Eoin Morgan opted for spin from both ends with the new ball the moment RCB opted to bat first. Harbhajan Singh conceded just six runs in the opening over despite bowling a no-ball but it was Varun Chakravarthy's first over at the end that rocked the batting side. Kohli, in his attempt to take on the mystery spinner, miscued a shot to get brilliantly caught by Rahul Tripathi. He struck again in the same over pushing one through quickly to beat Rajat Patidar's defence. The two wickets put RCB on the backfoot as they made only 28 runs in the first five overs.

In the batting department too, KKR made a very promising start to the run chase. Shubman Gill went berserk against Kyle Jamieson, smashing him for two sixes and even though the New Zealand pacer got his revenge, Rahul Tripathi took over smashing boundaries at regular intervals before getting dismissed in the last ball of the powerplay. But these were the only stages of the innings where KKR found themselves in the ascendancy in a game that RCB dominated.

Maxwell continues to impress

Life in the IPL continued to get better for Maxwell in his new colours. Having already made a promising start in the new campaign, Maxwell was once again RCB's saviour on an evening where they made a jittery start. KKR's decision to not give Chakravarthy another over after his double strike backfired as Maxwell eased himself in to resurrect the innings. He had a watchful Devdutt Padikkal at the other end and as RCB finally made amends in the final over of the powerplay with Maxwell smashing Shakib Al Hasan for a massive six and a four.

The momentum helped Maxwell continue being positive post the powerplay as he fetched another six and a four off the returning Chakravarthy. He brought up his fifty off just 28 balls and looked good to double it with 11 overs still remaining in the innings.

AB joins the party

The real damage though was yet to come. De Villiers in his new role as RCB's designated No.5 walked out at the ideal time with almost nine overs left in the innings. By the end of the 14th over, RCB still had only 117 on the board and needed a strong finish to propel them to anything over 170. However, de Villiers and Maxwell turned on the heat to launch an assault that stunned the bowling side. The 37-year-old hit successive boundaries off back-to-back overs with a Maxwell six sandwiched between the two. The Australian's hopes of reaching three figures were brought to an end by Cummins but de Villiers took control in the final three overs.

KKR's designated death bowler Andre Russell endured a torrid time as he conceded 17 runs in his first over and Morgan's decision to go with Harbhajan's experience in the penultimate over also backfired. Jamieson fetched a couple of boundaries and de Villiers hit an extraordinary shot over long off to reach fifty of just 27 balls. More punishment was in store for Russell as de Villiers smacked three fours and a six to carry RCB beyond 200 - a total that looked improbable at this venue.

Were KKR ever in the hunt?

Only for a short period. The powerplay was indeed productive but RCB always knew they could bounce back in the middle overs considering recent history. Yuzvendra Chahal put an end to his woeful form with a good display that saw him first pick the crucial wicket of in-form Nitish Rana before trapping Dinesh Karthik plumb in front with a googly. The chase pretty much fizzled out after that as KKR needed 122 in the final 10 overs for victory. Morgan and Shakib struggled despite fetching a few sixes and Russell tried his best to repeat his heroics from 2019 against the same opposition but Mohammad Siraj's much-improved version in 2021 was too hot to handle. An excellent penultimate over saw the fast bowler concede just a single that officially signalled the end for KKR.

What next for these two sides?

RCB will now make a pitstop in Mumbai to play just a couple of games. Their bowlers will have to make adjustments on this batting-friendly venue but the openers Kohli and Padikkal will fancy their chances of registering some big scores to get back into the groove. They will be facing Rajasthan Royals on April 22. KKR also follow them to Mumbai where they will be up against Chennai Super Kings on April 21.

Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 204/4 in 20 overs (Glenn Maxwell 78, AB de Villiers 76*; Varun Chakravarthy 2-39) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 166/8 in 20 overs (Andre Russell 31; Kyle Jamieson 3-41, Harshal Patel 2-17) by 38 runs.