Ruthless Russell decimates RCB

Kolkata Knight Rider’s Andre Russell celebrates after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s disastrous campaign took a turn for the worse as they suffered a fifth straight defeat in a tense IPL game against Kolkata Knight Riders here on Friday.

Under the pump, the Royal Challengers needed an inspirational performance from someone to turn things around and their two leading lights provided that at the start, forging a brilliant 108-run stand. While skipper Kohli smashed a 49-ball 84 (9x4, 2x6), de Villiers hammered a 32-ball 63 (5x4, 4x6) as Royal Challengers posted a competitive 205/3.

But the bowling and fielding were abject as KKR (206/5) crossed the line with five balls to spare. Chris Lynn, dropped twice (Mohammed Siraj the guilty party on both occasions), laid the foundation for the victory with a 31-ball 43 (4x4, 2x6) as the Knight Riders got off to a blistering start, racing to 94/2 in 10 overs.

The Royal Challengers pulled things back in the middle phase when Pawan Negi, playing the first game of the season, dismissed the well-set Robin Uthappa and Lynn off successive overs. They bowled a couple of tight overs to stifle the Knights and raise hopes of a first victory.

But Nitish Rana (37, 23b, 1x4, 2x6) and Dinesh Karthik (19, 15b, 1x4, 1x6) refused to throw in the towel with lovely cameos to keep KKR in the hunt. The marauding Andre Russell then took charge with KKR still miles behind the asking rate. In sizzling form so far, the big-built Jamaican creamed a bruising 13-ball 48 to send the ball soaring into the stands and Royal Challengers’ bowlers scurrying for cover. Russell, beating his chest after taking the winning single, hammered a seven sixes and one boundary.

Earlier though, RCB put out a fine batting display. Kohli looked in the mood from the word go. Both Parthiv Patel and he strode out with confidence and milked 13 runs in the opening over off Prasidh Krishna. The opening combo kept playing their shots, showing no mercy to any bowler as KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik struggled to gain control of proceedings.

Kohli, dropped on 35 by Sunil Narine in the eighth over, was all class on the night. Stunning flicks, straight drives, trademark cover drives and the hunger to covert ones into two were on display.

De Villiers, who joined his skipper when Parthiv departed in the eighth over (64/1), teed off from the word go. Typically playing shots all over the park, de Villiers ensured RCB kept motoring along in top gear that made life easy for the well-set Kohli at the other end. De Villiers, like Kohli, also enjoyed a slice of luck in the 12th over when he was dropped by  Lockie Ferguson while on 11.

Top class batsmen barely waste lifelines and Kohli and de Villiers made KKR pay with their excellent partnership. Kohli in fact looked for a century but was dismissed against the run of play, thanks a stunning caught and bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

The dismissal didn’t derail RCB one bit as de Villiers continued to litter the stadium with boundaries  while a final over flourish from Marcus Stoinis (28, 13b, 3x4, 1x6) ensured the hosts surpassed 200 for the first time this season. But it still wasn’t enough.

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