By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
ABU DHABI: Royal Challengers Bangalore made it short and sweet as they raced to an eight-wicket victory in quick time against Kolkata Knight Riders in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. With this forceful victory – their seventh in ten games — RCB jumped to the second spot with 14 points. They have now overtaken defending champions Mumbai Indians (3rd). Both Delhi Capitals and RCB have 14 points each but better net run-rate has helped DC to stay on top.
KKR will have to do something extraordinary in their remaining four matches to qualify for the playoffs. With ten points in their kitty, the two-time former champions will have to win at least three matches out of four to make the playoff cut.
Chasing a measly target of 86, RCB cruised to perhaps their easiest of wins of the season with 6.4 overs and eight wickets to spare. Devdutt Padikkal (25) and Aaron Finch (16) once again provided a solid start. After the departure of both the openers Virat Kohli and Gurkeerat Singh maintained the tempo and chased down the target with ease. While Singh remained unbeaten on 21, Kohli was on 18.
The hero of the day, however, was undoubtedly Mohammed Siraj. He was the one who made it look so easy with his spectacular spell early in the day. Speedster Siraj became the first bowler in the history of IPL to bowl two maiden overs as he rocked KKR top-order with a 3-wickets burst in the powerplay.
Thanks to Siraj’s exceptional bowling performance, RCB restricted KKR to a score of 84 for 8. The 26-year-old returned with figures of three for no runs from his first two overs. The Hyderabad-based quickie rattled KKR in the first four overs of their innings as he sent back opener Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and Tom Banton in his first couple of overs without conceding a run. He gave away a run only in his third over and finished his first spell of three overs with figures of 3-2-2-3. He finally ended his dream spell with an impressive bowling analysis of 4-2-8-3.
Deciding to bat first proved to be a wrong decision by new skipper Eoin Morgan as KKR were put on the backfoot straightway by Siraj’s nagging line and length. Tripathi (1) was caught behind by AB de Villiers off the third ball of the second over of the innings and Rana (0) was cleaned up by a perfect inswinger on the very next ball. Tom Banton foiled Siraj’s hopes of a first hat-trick but the England batsman could not last long as Siraj got him caught behind as well.
KKR were reeling at 3 for 3 in the fourth over when Shubman Gill holed out to Chris Morris off Navdeep Saini. Soon after Banton was dismissed making it 14 for 4 in the fourth over. The only saving grace was Morgan’s knock of 30. He tried to steady the rocking ship but failed to get support from others. The total was given some respectability by Lockie Ferguson (19 not out) and Kuldeep Yadav (12). Besides Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal was the other bowler to impress with his 2 for 15. Barely ten days after being decimated by AB de Villiers, KKR faced a second consecutive defeat at the hands of RCB.
On Thursday, Rajasthan Royals (8 points) will square off against Sunrisers Hyderabad (6 points) in Dubai.
Brief scores: KKR 84 for 8 in 20 overs (Eoin Morgan 30, Lockie Ferguson 19 not out, Kuldeep Yadav 12; Mohammed Siraj 3-8, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-15, Washington Sundar 1-14, Navdeep Saini 1-23) lost to RCB 85 for 2 in 13.3 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 25, Gurkeerat Singh 21 not out, Virat Kohli 18 not out, Aaron Finch 16; Lockie Ferguson 1-17) by eight wickets. Man-of-the-match: Mo Siraj (RCB).