6 Apr 2019

Kohli-ABD flight hits a slaughtering Russell, crashes.

By cricinsane

A game that started after Kohli lost yet another toss at the IPL 2019 and having been put into batting first, they got off a good start. Kohli looked in the zone and AB DeVilliers once put down early in his innings off Kuldeep took time to get going but once they did, they absolutely entertained the Chinnaswamy crowd who missed this delight for the last four games. ABD started to attack the weak link of the KKR bowling, their unexperienced pace attack and Kohli soon joined the rampage before falling to a brilliant Kuldeep catch off his own bowling. ABD fell soon and RCB needed a flourish finish which they got from Stoinis but 200 is never a safe target on this ground. KKR started decently before losing Narine in the third over and Lynn and Robbie then took over the taking the team closer duties. KKR were almost done for the game when they needed 66 off the last 4 overs and DK after striking two blows went off as well. But now was the time for their main hero of the season thus far, Andre Russell. Not once, not twice, but Russell glanced up multiple times after having had single-handedly snatched a victory right out of the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s clasp. It was almost as if the gods had paid heed. Russell smashed seven sixes and a four in 13 balls to power KKR to an improbable victory; a miraculous one even, at a time when all hope seemed lost. And that, with five balls to spare. His unbeaten 48 came at an unbelievable strike rate of 369.23. It wasn’t the first time this season that Russell has come to KKR’s aid. Much like the earlier three instances this season, he proved to be the difference.

KKR needed 67 off 26 balls when Russell walked in to bat. On a surface that reeked of runs, KKR were lagging in the game with Pawan Negi’s double strike giving RCB a slight edge at that stage. It was RCB’s game to lose, but their bowling at death had been nothing short of abysmal thus far in the season. It really though took KKR just two overs to turn the game on its head with RCB’s fragile bowling exposed once again, especially in the death – an area of lacking that the franchise has always been associated with.

They were unable to deliver a single yorker in that period, failing to take a cue from Kagiso Rabada, as he validated in the Super Over finish in Delhi. Instead, they let Russell make a mockery of their bowling, from deep in the crease, making room for himself to clear the short boundaries in Bangalore comfortably, predominantly in the V, with as many as 24 runs coming in the region, driven by sheer power.

It began with Mohammad Siraj’s over, the 18th. It couldn’t get any worse for Siraj, who had dropped two catches on the night, much to the fury of skipper Virat Kohli, who had made his displeasure quite apparent by moving him out of the position immediately. Yet, when he was called upon to bowl, he started smartly, giving away nothing to keep Russell in check. However, two balls in a row above the waist and Siraj was forced out of the attack. To compound matters, not just did RCB give away two extras, but the second was bludgeoned out of the ground.

Marcus Stoinis was called in to bowl the remainder of the over, and was shown no respect either. He conceded two more sixes, along with another extra, extending their tally to 13 for the game. Just like that, KKR had milked 23 off the over, and the probability of them causing an upset heightened tenfold.Kohli was counting on the experience of Tim Southee to pay off. But with rhythm lost, wayward lines, missing lengths, and constantly trying to change his angles into Russell, Southee was a sheep waiting to be hunted. The over read: 1 6 6 6 4 6, with 29 coming off it and KKR, rather Russell, had levelled the scores.

In that period, RCB’s bowlers, visibly bogged down, were intimidated largely by the Goliath that Russell is and crumbled under pressure. RCB didn’t do themselves any favours with dropped catches on the day either – as many as four of them. As skipper Virat Kohli said: “If you can’t defend 75 in the last four overs, then I don’t know if you can defend 100. We needed to be more clever, nothing came off and we just cracked under pressure. That’s been our story this season so far.”Kohli and AB de Villiers had engulfed the Chinnaswamy in a surge of nostalgia earlier in the day when the two combined for a century stand. While Kohli brought up an IPL fifty after seven innings, de Villiers continued from where he left off against Mumbai Indians, as RCB piled on a total of over 200, and it seemed like they were in with a mighty good chance to pick up their first win of the season. Little did they know Russell had different plans. This rampaging onslaught seemed to have taken with it New Zealand’s finest pacer Southee and a helpless Stoinis who came to finish the over Siraj had left for him. It remained a mystery still as to why Negi wasn’t used who was the best bowler for RCB but against a man on a mission to pulverise the attack that comes, You really can’t do much. RCB look helpless, Kohli looks despondent and an unlikely turnaround like the MI of 2015 looks highly unlikely. We hope captain Kohli finds his blue Jersey captain who never seizes to inspire back because If Kohli is short on confidence before the WC, India is short of it too.