Virat Kohli delivered one the most memorable backs-to-the-wall performance to set up Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 10-run win over the Kolkata Knight Riders in Match 35 of VIVO IPL 2019.
RCB were bottom of the pile with a solitary win from eight matches and their playoff aspirations had been reduced to a mathematical equation. For that equation to remain intact, RCB had to win each of their remaining matches. The odds were against RCB at the Eden Gardens on Friday night after AB de Villiers – one of their batting mainstays – was declared unavailable for medical reasons. It therefore meant there was additional responsibility and pressure on the RCB captain’s shoulders.
Virat responded in style, scoring his fifth IPL century and powering his team to a formidable 213-4. He got good support from Moeen Ali, who scored a scintillating half-century batting at number four. The England all-rounder scored 66 and dominated the 90-run partnership with his captain.
RCB, who were 42-1 at the end of the powerplay, added 107 runs in the next ten overs – courtesy Moeen Ali’s blitz, and then finished off adding another 64 runs in the final four overs – this time thanks to Virat’s acceleration.
It was a largely forgettable night for the KKR bowlers; Prasidh Krishna (4-0-52-0) and Kuldeep Yadav (4-0-59-1) in particular bore the brunt of the punishment. Sunil Narine, Harry Gurney, Andre Russell and Kuldeep picked up a wicket each.
The Knight Riders were faced with an extremely difficult task. Never previously had a target as steep as 214 been chased down in T20 matches at the Eden Gardens; that record would remain intact. Despite spectacular blitzes by Nitish Rana and Andre Russell and the 118-run partnership between them, KKR could only get as far as 203-5.
Nitish Rana, batting at number five, remained unbeaten on 85 (45 balls, 9 fours, 5 sixes), while Russell hit two fours and nine sixes in his 25-ball 65 before being run out off the penultimate ball of the match. The pair got together in the twelfth over after Robin Uthappa was dismissed for a painstakingly compiled 20-ball 9. KKR needed 135 from 49 balls at that stage; Rana and Russell added 118 in eight overs and nearly pulled off the unthinkable. A staggering stat that caught the eye at the end of the KKR innings was that their batsmen had played out 59 dot deliveries; so in effect, they had scored 203 runs off the remaining 61 balls!
For RCB, Dale Steyn (2-40) made an immediate impact after joining the team as a replacement player; the South African should have had the wicket of Chris Lynn the very first ball of the innings, but Stoinis put down a chance at slip. He eventually picked up the wicket of the KKR opener and then added a second wicket when he dismissed Shubman Gill. Navdeep Saini (1-31) and Stoinis (1-32) chipped in with a wicket each.
Standout batting performance
In the early part of his innings, Virat Kohli was sturdy without being flamboyant. The RCB captain illustrated through his knock that there was enough time even in the 20-over format for a batsman to construct an inning. Virat operated at nearly a run-a-ball early on, before as if at a switch of a button, he switched gears. That trigger happened in the eleventh over when he was 35 from 32 balls; Virat hooked a short-pitched delivery from Andre Russell and deposited it into the stands backward of square-leg.
From that point in time – when the gearshift happened, Virat did not play a single dot delivery until his dismissal of the very last ball of the innings. He brought his half-century off 40 balls, and needed only 17 more deliveries to reach triple figures. Virat scored five boundaries and three sixes in his second block of 50 runs.
The other standout feature of Virat’s innings was his stroke play; he didn’t have to create strokes, didn’t have to improvise, and didn’t have to be agricultural. Instead, almost all of his runs were accumulated playing authentic cricket strokes such as the cover drive, the on-drive, the whip of the pads or the pull and the hook shots.
Virat had his share of luck too; on two occasions – when he was 14 and 50, the fast bowler Prasidh Krishna found the outside edge of the RCB captain’s bat, but the ball flew through the vacant slip cordon and raced to the thirdman boundary.
Notable Support Act – Batting
Virat Kohli’s hundred will possibly make headlines, but Moeen Ali’s performance with the bat was just as good, if not better. The left-hander came out to bat when RCB were 59-2 towards the end of the ninth over.
He began aggressively; the second ball he faced, he charged down the pitch and deposited the left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep into the stands long-on. In the following over, Moeen – when on 9 – had an escape when he got a thin edge attempting to cut Andre Russell, but none of the KKR fielders noticed the edge and no one appealed for it.
The left-hander repeatedly targeted the wide long-on and midwicket area. Moeen destroyed Kuldeep Yadav in the sixteenth over; he hit the spinner for three sixes and two fours. There was a huge shift of momentum in that one particular over, and even though the bowler had the last laugh, dismissing the batsman of the last ball of the over, plenty of damage had already been done.
Moeen brought up his half-century off 24 balls and carried on to make 66; his 28-ball knock contained five boundaries and six sixes.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 213-4 (Virat Kohli 100, Moeen Ali 66) defeated
Kolkata Knight Riders: 203-5 (Nitish Rana 85*, Andre Russell 65) by 10 runs.
Stat of the Match
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 213-4 would be the highest total at the Eden Gardens by a visiting team.
Dale Steyn played his first match for RCB in nearly nine years; his previous appearance for the franchise in the IPL was on 24 April 2010. This match against the Knight Riders would be Steyn’s 200th T20 match.
The match aggregate of 418 runs would be the highest ever in T20 matches played at the Eden Gardens.
Man of the Match
Virat Kohli, for his 58-ball 100.