Royal Challengers Bangalore were handed their fifth defeat in seven games as they slumped to a 6-wicket loss against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.
RCB were handed a huge blow heading into the game as star batsman AB de Villiers skipped the game through illness. Skipper Virat Kohli, though, ensured his side would post a competitive total as he produced an impressive knock of 68* to help RCB post 175/4 in 20 overs.
KKR, though, chased the target with relative ease as their Australian opener Chris Lynn made most of a dropped catch to play the anchor role and see his side across the line with an unbeaten 62.
Kohli has so far scored a half-century thrice during the season, but RCB have ended up on the losing side on all three occasions.
Here are the talking points from the game:
Another vintage Kohli knock
Andre Russell turned 30 on Sunday and celebrated it by taking three wickets, two of which came in quick succession. The spell saw RCB being reduced to 75/3 after 10 overs.
Skipper Virat Kohli had just walked in and was staring at another rebuilding process. In a huge blow, AB de Villiers was forced to skip the game due to illness. Any hopes a competitive total rested on the shoulders of Kohli. Not one to be bogged down by stiff challenges, he did what he does best - counterattack.
Kohli never quite slogs and usually sticks to the traditional cricketing shots. He was no different on Sunday. But, two delectable boundaries stood out. As fate would have it, they would come during an over by Russell. Kohli was batting on 40, the need of the hour was to go for big hits. The India captain knew what was needed to be done, but he did it his way.
One was a short-arm jab, with no real back lift. The other was similar shot with hit like a whip. Both ended up over the long-on fence. They were incredible shots, that appeared to have come out of nowhere. There was no ‘dancing down the track’, nor was there any swivel of the body that would have indicated an expansive shot coming up. It was just Kohli being incredible.
He would take RCB to a competitive 175/4, remaining unbeaten on 68 runs off 44 balls. Kohli was in his element on Sunday, but lacked a partner who could complement him and help stretch the total further.
Two contrasting efforts in the field
Defending a total of 175 can be tricky in the IPL. It’s a score that can prove daunting for some and not cause any trepidation for others. With a strong batting line-up littered with big-hitters, KKR clearly fell in the latter category. RCB, who have struggled with their bowling combination through the season, it was imperative that get breakthroughs at regular intervals.
They got their biggest opportunity in the fourth over. Yuvendra Chahal had induced a leading edge as Chris Lynn looked to hoick him over midwicket. The ball went high but was put down by M Ashwin at extra cover. He was safely under it, but just couldn’t hold on. Lynn was batting on seven at the time. Kohli had his faced covered as the ball hit the ground.
It was a frustrating moment for the hosts, who were desperate to get a win on the board. Like with the bat, Kohli would later pull off a stunning catch in the outfield to dismiss KKR captain Dinesh Karthik. The India keeper-batsman lofted it towards long on, Kohli put in a full-length dive, running in at full tilt. He got his hands safely under it.
It was one of the best catches of the season, Kohli, though, could not celebrate it with the fervour that the quality of the catch demanded. His teammate’s drop earlier had done quite a lot of damage. Lynn had made most of the reprieve and put KKR on course for victory.
Lynn keeps the Aussie flag flying high
The IPL 11 is one of the rare seasons where the Australian flavour is lacking. With big names of David Warner and Steve Smith missing, it was certain that their absence will be felt.
Over the years, Warner has always been a regular feature in the IPL’s top-scorer’s list.
In the absence of the Australian top-dogs, it’s Chris Lynn who has kept the Australian flag flying high with a couple of striking performances through the season. He’s currently the only player from Down Under to occupy a place among the top-ten run-scorers.
The KKR opener has been an effective cog in his side’s batting order. His partnership at the top of the innings with Sunil Narine has been one of the highlights of the IPL so far.
The 28-year-old, mostly known for his big-hitting ways, produced a slightly uncharacteristic knock on Sunday as he dropped anchor to take his side across the line with an unbeaten 62 off 52 balls.
Dropped early into his knock, Lynn batted positive from there on, giving no quarter to his opponents who tried everything to halt his progress.
Lynn smashed just one six during his knock, but made up for it with seven boundaries. His presence, though, was enough to see KKR across the line even as RCB inflicted a few blows during the chase.