Narine blitz powers KKR home

Narine blitz powers KKR home

The interesting episode of the game, the turning point, arrived in the 15th over of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s innings. AB de Villiers was off to a blazing start. In his company was the ever-dangerous Virat Kohli. It needed a big decision from Kolkata Knight Riders’ skipper Dinesh Karthik and he handed the ball to Nitish Rana. The part-timer, to everyone’s surprise, removed both the key batsmen in successive overs.

De Villiers (44, 23b, 1x4, 5x6), judging every ball to perfection until that moment, top-edged a pull to mid-wicket. Rana then yorked Kohli (31, 33b, 1x4, 1x6) to peg back RCB. The visitors, from 127/4, recovered to post a competitive 176/7 thanks to some late-burst from Mandeep Singh (37, 18b, 4x4, 2x6).

However, the total wasn’t enough for the Challengers as the hosts knocked down the target in 18.5 overs with four wickets remaining. Kolkata’s winning start in the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League largely came on the back of a scintillating half-century from opener Sunil Narine (50, 19b, 4x4, 5x6). Narine raced to his fifty in 17 balls and the knock left RCB playing catch-up.

Kolkata’s experiment to push Narine to the opener’s slot had worked well last season and the southpaw’s free-flowing style did the job again for his side. Narine’s assault began against Chris Woakes in the fourth over. After clobbering the right-arm pacer for a six over long-on, Narine made room and struck two straight fours on the off side. He ended the over with a bang, smacking a short ball for a six over mid-wicket as Woakes leaked 20 runs.

Narine’s dominance continued in the next over with the young Washington Sundar at the receiving end. A four was followed by a six past mid off of a full toss from the off-spinner. In the last ball of the over, Sundar almost had his man but Mandeep Singh went across the rope at deep-wicket after latching on to another big hit from Narine. Sundar gave away 19 runs and KKR raced to 65 in five overs. Umesh Yadav eased the tension at the RCB dug-out with two quick wickets. Narine dragged a full toss on the stumps to become Umesh’s first victim. The Vidarbha pacer scalped Robin Uthappa in his next over to reduce KKR to 83/3 in the seventh over. The hosts, however, romped home on the back of handy knocks from Nitish Rana (34) and Karthik (35).

Earlier, Brendon McCullum gave RCB hopes of a big total. McCullum, who fetched 14 runs in the first over of the innings from Vinay Kumar, pounced on every loose ball. Narine stopped McCullum at 43 by bowling him.

While Kohli was struggling for big ones, de Villiers took off in style. The South African crowd favourite went after the spin duo of Kuldeep and Narine and then dispatched Mitchell Johnson for a four and a six.

However, Rana’s special show denied RCB a huge total. The Challengers next play Kings XI Punjab at home on Friday.  

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