Kohli stars with hundred to keep RCB hopes alive

Kolkata: 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.