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Cricket news - The bowling's out of order for KKR

Chakravarthy's overs were being saved for AB de Villiers.

Chakravarthy's overs were being saved for AB de Villiers.

It was yet another win by a team batting first in Chennai, but the script was unfamiliar and the toss not decisive. How Royal Challengers Bangalore racked up 204/4, a total 45 runs in excess of the seasonal first-innings average here, was down to two genius innings in succession from Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, but there were certainly things that the Kolkata Knight Riders could have done better.

Maxwell faced his first ball from Varun Chakravarthy when he was 30 off 19 balls. It's significant because it was Chakravarthy's double strike in the second over that saw RCB stuttering at 9/2. Both Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar, the player he had picked to ramp up RCB's batting against spin, stood dismissed by two deliveries that spun in opposite directions. But Chakravarthy wasn't around to try for an encore through the next six overs. When he did come back, Maxwell hit his first couple of legal deliveries for a six and a four. The mystery was off the boil.

"We were trying to save his overs for when AB de Villiers arrived at the crease," KKR coach Brendon McCullum explained. "In retrospect, we probably should have bowled Varun Chakravarthy after that first over, but there were many other aspects in the game we can tidy up against a team that's clearly very confident in RCB."

That Chakravarthy's overs were being saved makes for a compelling case. On a day de Villiers scored 76* off 34 balls, he managed only 12 runs off the 9 balls he faced from Chakravarthy, not to mention that one of the two boundaries he hit was off an outside edge.

Although the match-up with Chakravarthy didn't quite stop de Villiers from staying put and helping himself to runs off other bowlers, it does reinforce the point KKR captain made after the game.

"Glenn Maxwell is a fine player but he's not their only destructive player... like we saw today. So we always need to have one or two (overs from Chakravarthy) up our sleeve to bowl at AB. You need to plan past one player," Morgan said.

Would he bowl Chakravarthy for another over if given a chance to go back? "Probably not to be honest," the KKR captain replied. McCullum clearly saw the situation differently but there were other decisions that didn't divide opinions as much.

Andre Russell has bowled two of the final three overs in all of KKR's games this season. It's been his role for a while in the side and Morgan's just sticking to a tactic that worked for him as recently as a few days ago.

Against Mumbai Indians, Morgan bowled his spinners for five straight overs in the powerplay, thus keeping his seamers for Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard at the back end. The ploy worked wonders when Russell got both those batsmen out and harvested figures of 5 for 15 in his final two overs, bowling MI out for 152. It was exactly what the numbers indicated: both Pollard and Pandya are more comfortable hitting spin than pace.

Morgan went with the same game plan against RCB on Sunday (April 18) but his indifference to a key match-up cost him a fair few runs and probably the match. Russell was up against de Villiers this time, a batsman who had taken runs off him at a strike-rate of 221.74 in the IPL, and more importantly without ever getting dismissed. So the writing was on the wall when de Villiers faced every single ball Russell delivered in the game, carting away 38 runs off 12 balls. It didn't matter on the day that they came from round the wicket, bringing the lop-sided dimensions of the ground into play.

"We wanted to take the RCB batters to the bigger boundaries... we had the plans in place. But unfortunately we missed it, be it because of the presence of AB de Villiers at the crease or because we weren't quite good enough on the day," McCullum said. Our plans were sound, we didn't just execute them well enough... We gave away probably 25 runs above what was par in the end."

What must make it more frustrating for KKR is that it wasn't the first time they got this match-up wrong. In IPL 2020, de Villiers faced 10 of the 12 deliveries that Russell bowled at death and scored 32 runs off them. With that in mind, it wasn't surprising that similar mistakes delivered a similar result for KKR.