The England all-rounder defended 24 runs off the final over under extreme pressure despite Andre Russell and Nitish Rana threatening to pull of a miraculous win for KKR to lead RCB to only their second win of the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
The win just about keeps Bangalore’s slim hopes of making the play-offs alive and it arrived on the back of a fine batting display from Moeen and Kohli.
After a slow start by RCB’s batsmen at the Eden Gardens, Moeen changed the complexion of the game with his second consecutive fifty in the competition which came at an electric pace.
The left-hander struck six sixes and five boundaries in a 28-ball stay which saw him collect 66 runs before Kohli’s fifth-ever IPL ton helped Bangalore post a commanding 213-4.
“Our communication around the second time (strategic timeout) was to get about 175,” said a visibly relieved Kohli after his side’s tense win.
“A bit of luck went our way, and we never thought we would get 200 plus. Moeen took the momentum from them and landed it back in our lap. He said, ‘I’m going to go now’ and I just asked him to go for it.
“He targetted the smaller boundaries and gave us some momentum in those two to three overs.”
The RCB and India skipper also lauded the contribution of Dale Steyn on his RCB return after a gap of nine years. The South African pacer’s early spell with the new ball proved to be crucial with his two wickets inside the first five overs allowing Bangalore to tighten the screws until the 10th over mark.
“The ball travels quickly, and the pitch is hard, and Russell is hitting the ball as well as anyone I know has. But Steyn used his experience well, and that allowed (Navdeep) Saini to also follow up. Picking up wickets is crucial, and we did that today,” explained Kohli.
The win helped RCB join Rajasthan Royals on four points although they remain in bottom-spot after nine games. For Kolkata, it was the fourth straight loss and it leaves them languishing in sixth-spot with four wins from their nine games.
Batting first, RCB amassed a daunting 213-4 in their 20 overs with skipper Virat Kohli bringing up his maiden ton of the season and fifth overall in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in a special innings.
In reply, KKR looked down and out at one point before Russell and Nitish Rana brought them roaring back with a 119-run stand but they fell just short of the finish line to suffer their fourth consecutive defeat.
For Bangalore, it was only the second win of the campaign and it just about keeps their slim hopes of making a miraculous run to the play-offs alive.
MOEEN MAKES IT BACK-TO-BACK FIFTIES
After registering only his second IPL half-century in the loss to Mumbai Indians, Moeen Ali made it two in a row with a terrific 28-ball cameo that fetched him 66 runs.
RCB had struggled to up the ante in the early half of their innings with the powerplay overs yielding only 42 runs but Moeen’s arrival to the crease changed all that in a jiffy with the Englishman striking the ball sweetly from the very go.
When the all-rounder arrived at the crease, Bangalore were 59-2 at the end of nine overs. By the time he departed at the end of the 16th over, the visitors had reached 149.
Dealing primarily in boundaries, Moeen struck six sixes and five fours in his brief but explosive stay at the crease. Kuldeep Yadav’s confidence was visibly shattered after Moeen took him on for 27 runs in a single over and even the left-hander’s dismissal off the last delivery provided the KKR wrist-spinner little consolation.
KOHLI CHANGES GEARS
A big reason behind RCB’s slow start with the bat had been Kohli struggling to time the ball initially. The Bangalore skipper was content to play second fiddle to Moeen in a terrific 99-run stand but changed gears to deadly effect after bringing up his half-century.
Kohli’s first 50 runs of the day came off 40 deliveries but the next 50 came in just 17 with the right-hander registering his fifth century in the IPL.
KKR’s bowlers had no respite with even Andre Russell facing the music from Kohli’s bat as the India superstar brought a packed Eden Gardens crowd to its feet.
Kohli’s sensational acceleration at the death was the reason RCB collected 92 runs off the final five overs with the top-order batsman deservedly getting to his ton off the penultimate delivery of the innings before holing out in the deep off the final ball.
RUSSELL STORM ARRIVES TOO LATE
That RCB held on for the win eventually was largely down to Dale Steyn’s excellent spell upfront on his return to the franchise after nearly a decade. Kohli’s men had picked up only three wickets in the powerplay overs previously in the current campaign but they claimed as many inside just five overs on Friday with Steyn accounting for two for them.
That excellent start with the ball which saw Kolkata restricted to 60-3 at the halfway mark proved to be crucial for the visitors with Russell and Nitish Rana turning the game on its head with some mighty hitting.
Rana kept the hosts in the game with a quick-fire fifty even as Russell warmed up with three consecutive sixes of Yuzvendra Chahal in the 15th over.
The pair rained down the sixes in the death overs and accounted for 14 of them between themselves in a breathtaking 119-run stand. However, even that assault which included 10 sixes from Russell’s bat alone fell just short in the end with Rana remaining stranded on a valiant unbeaten 85 (46).
Andre Russell last 30 balls vs RCB— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) April 19, 2019
6 6 6 1 6 6 6 4 6 1 6 0 0 4 0 1 0 6 6 6 0 4 6 0 1 0 0 0 6 6 ( 100 Runs )
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 213-4
Virat Kohli: 100 (58)
Moeen Ali: 66 (28)
Kolkata Knight Riders: 203-5
Nitish Rana: 85 not out (46)
Andre Russell: 65 (25)
Delhi Capitals won’t have fond memories of their last meeting with Kings XI Punjab. Chasing 167, Delhi were cruising at 144/3, then inexplicably lost their last seven wickets for eight runs, with Sam Curran taking a hat-trick.
The result highlighted Delhi’s inexperience, and though they’ve remained in playoff contention their ability under pressure continues to be scrutinised.
Punjab are searching for consistency in a season where they haven’t won or lost more than two straight games. Having beaten Rajasthan Royals last time out, now is the perfect time to go on a winning run and cement a playoff spot.
DELHI’S YOUNG BATSMEN NEED TO LEARN LESSONS
Inexperience has been Delhi’s Achilles heel in recent seasons, as their batting lineup relies on immensely talented players still learning their trade.
That has meant a feast-or-famine season for two key Delhi batsmen. Rishabh Pant hit 78 off 27 in Delhi’s season opener, and since then has only crossed 30 twice, while opener Prithvi Shaw has a top score of 99 but a second-highest score of 28.
Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan are the only Delhi players with three or more 40+ scores. They sacrifice explosiveness – their strike rates are 119 and 130 respectively, while Pant and Shaw score at 155 and 141 – for substance.
Kings XI’s openers, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, often start slow because they know they can make it up later – a lesson for Shaw. And how lethal a batsman could Pant be if he learned how to build an innings like his more experienced team-mates?
KINGS XI SWEAT OVER MUJEEB FITNESS
What had been a strange season for Mujeeb Ur Rahman took a turn for the worse in Kings XI’s last match. Playing just his fourth game of IPL 2019, an odd selection decision that has never been explained, the young Afghan spinner injured himself while fielding at the boundary against Rajasthan, in a similar fashion to Mumbai Indians pacer Alzarri Joseph – who is duly missing the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder.
It’s not sure if Mujeeb’s injury is as severe, but even being forced to miss just a few matches will create a selection and strategy headache for Punjab. They won’t be able to play three spinners, thanks to leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy’s fractured finger.
Curran is the likeliest replacement, and though he has brought mixed returns so far, just the sight of him could bring back bad memories for Delhi after his hat-trick in the previous encounter.
Delhi Capitals: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (c), Colin Ingram, Rishabh Pant (wk), Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Mandeep Singh, Ravi Ashwin (c), Mujeeb ur Rahman/Sam Curran, Mohammad Shami, Murugan Ashwin, Arshdeep Singh