IPL: Narine’s 17-ball 50 stuns RCB as KKR win

SUMMARY: Kolkata Knight Riders 177-6 (Narine 50, Karthik 34*, Woakes 3-36) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 176-7 (De Villiers 44, McCullum 43, Rana 2-11) by four wickets.

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Sunil Narine’s 17-ball half-century and Nitish Rana‘s all-round display helped Kolkata Knight Riders win their season-opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets.

Asked to bat under cloudy skies, Royal Challengers posted 176, a middling total on a good batting pitch, and just as he did last season against the same opponents, Narine blasted away a significant chunk of the target in very little time. The middle-order built on his efforts to steer Knight Riders home with seven balls to spare.

RCB could have made much more than their eventual total of 176-7, especially after being positioned at 127-2 after 14.1 overs, but a one-over special from part-time off-spinner Rana, who took out AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli with consecutive balls, swung the momentum Knight Riders’ way.

After Narine fell for 50 in the sixth over, the hosts wobbled slightly as Umesh Yadav – a former Knight Rider himself – took two wickets in two overs, but Dinesh Karthik (35*), Rana (34) and Andre Russell (15) took them to victory without too many undue alarms.

Red-hot RCB fizzle out with the bat

The visitors made their intentions clear off the game’s first ball when Brendon McCullum clipped Vinay Kumar off his pads for four. In all, RCB extracted 52 off the Powerplay for the loss of Quinton de Kock, and McCullum looked for the boundary at every opportunity before his dismissal for 43 in the ninth over.

De Villiers replaced McCullum and carried on in similar vein, launching Kuldeep Yadav inside-out and down the ground for successive sixes, and following up with one more six each off Narine and Mitchell Johnson in the next two overs.

AB de Villiers sparkled briefly for RCB

His brilliance made up for an unusually off-colour Kohli at the other end, and the two put on 64 off 36 balls despite the RCB captain going at less than a run a ball.

With their two best batsmen in the middle, RCB seemed set for a massive total when they were undone by the unlikeliest of destroyers.

Before this game, Rana had only four T20 wickets to his name. Thus, it was rather surprising when Dinesh Karthik turned to him to bowl the 15th over.  

Rana’s first-ball, a half-tracker, was disdainfully pulled over the midwicket boundary in what seemed a continuation of de Villiers’ dominance. But two balls later, the momentum had completely shifted. 

Rana’s second ball was another long-hop. De Villiers went for another leg-side heave but this time he holed out to Mitchell Johnson at long-on. Kohli took strike next ball, on virtue of the batsmen crossing, went for a drive, and ended up yorking himself against a quick and extremely full off-break.

The ball crashed into middle stump and, the visitors suddenly had two new batsmen at the crease with neither having faced a ball. 

The last 33 balls of RCB’s innings produced 49 runs – decent, but not great – and they could have ended up with even less if not for an 18-ball 37 from Mandeep Singh, who hit 6, 4, 6 off the first three balls of Vinay Kumar’s 20th over before being dismissed. (ESPNCricinfo)

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