A new-look Kolkata Knight Riders under new skipper Dinesh Karthik overcame the jitters to notch up a convincing four-wicket win over heavyweights Royal Challengers Bangalore and make a positive start to their campaign in the Indian Premier League in Kolkata on Sunday.
Chasing a stiff 177 after KKR opted to bowl, opener Sunil Narine set up the chase with a 17-ball 50 (4x4, 5x6), the joint fourth-fastest fifty in the IPL.
A sensational display of pace bowling from Umesh Yadav brought RCB back on track as he produced a twin blow, dismissing Narine and Robin Uthappa.
But skipper Karthik (35 off 29 balls not out) maintained his composure and starred in a 55-run partnership with Nitish Rana to eventually seal the chase with seven balls to spare.
Rana, who dismissed AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli off consecutive deliveries, hit 25-ball 34 (2x4, 2x6) as he along with the skipper saw through the critical phase.
This was KKR’s third successive win on RCB who were shot out for the lowest IPL total of 49 here last season.
A change of season and a rejigged side did not change the fortunes for Kohli and Co as Narine smashed RCB bowlers all across Eden Gardens.
Unleashing raw power up front, Narine had his intention clear starting off with a flat-batted boundary and a slog sweep six against Chahal in the first two balls.
He lost his partner, Chris Lynn (five) in the same over but he remained unperturbed and went berserk in the fourth over of Chris Woakes who was hammered for 6-4-4-6.
Earlier Rana struck twice in a sensational one-over spell before Mandeep Singh smashed a whirlwind 18-ball 37 to take Royal Challengers Bangalore to a challenging 176/7.
Opener Brendon McCullum set it up for RCB with a sensational 27-ball 43 (6x4, 2x6) while AB de Villiers made the Eden Gardens crowd cheer for them with his scintillating 23-ball 44, which was studded with five mouth-watering sixes and one boundary.
Kohli (31 off 33) played the second fiddle.
With de Villiers blazing all guns at one point their run graph was looking past 200 but part-time off-spinner Rana produced twin dismissals in two balls – De Villiers and Kohli – to reduce RCB for 127/4 in 14.2 overs.
De Villiers top edged, while Rana yorked Kohli to break the quickfire 64 runs partnership off 36 balls as KKR pulled things back but Mandeep Singh produced a scintillating 18-ball 37 – with two sixes and a four against Vinay Kumar in the last over – to help RCB post 176 for 7.
Bowling with a remodelled action after his latest call of suspect action in the Pakistan Super League last month, Narine conceded just five runs and took one wicket from his first two overs.
Earlier, McCullum once again shone in a debut innings for the Bangalore franchise and became the second player to complete 9000 T20 runs.
Narine was brought on in the first over after Powerplay and bowled four dot balls to Kohli, conceding just two runs.
Beating McCullum with his change of pace, Narine cleaned up the New Zealander and gave his trademark deadpan expression.
But De Villiers ensured that the run-rate does not slide further as he lifted the atmosphere with his two stunning sixes off Kuldeep’s successive deliveries.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 176/7 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 43, AB de Villiers 44; Nitish Rana 2/11) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders: 177/6 in 18.5 overs (Sunil Narine 50, Umesh Yadav 2/27, Chris Woakes 3/36) by four wickets.