When AB de Villiers finds form, there is not much the bowlers can do, as Kolkata Knight Riders found out at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. The blistering 73 not out off just 33 balls (5×4, 6×6) from the South African genius powered Royal Challengers Bangalore to an 82-run victory.
The fifth win also took RCB to the third spot on the IPL 2020 table. On a night when de Villiers ruled, skipper Virat Kohli (33 not out, 28b, 1×4) was content to play the spectator’s role during their unbroken 100-run stand for the third-wicket.
The de Villiers show began with a straight drive off Prasidh Krishna; not even the stumps at the bowler’s end could take the power off the shot as it ricocheted off to the boundary. He then plundered 18 off Kamlesh Nagarkoti’s last over, smashing him for two massive sixes on the on-side off successive balls.
Earlier, Aaron Finch (47, 37b, 44, 1×6) and Devdutt Padikkal (32, 23b, 4×4, 1×6) put on 67 for the first wicket, justifying Kohli’s decision to bat first. Chasing a formidable target, KKR would have appreciated a solid start from the new opening pair of Shubman Gill and Tom Banton, who was making his IPL debut. It didn’t prove a particularly memorable beginning for the highly rated 21-year-old from England.
He was bowled by a Navdeep Saini delivery clocked at 148.1kmph. It nipped back and took the inside edge before dislodging the off and middle stumps.
RCB could soon hear that sweet sound of the ball hitting the stumps again, as Nitish Rana was beaten in his attempt to slog-sweep the impressive Washington Sundar.
Watching all this from the other end was Gill (34, 25b, 3×4, 1×6), who seemed to be shaping up for another significant score. He was dropped on 31 by Finch at long-on off Yuzvendra Chahal, but failed to capitalise on it; he was run out, courtesy a fine effort from Isuru Udana and wicketkeeper de Villiers.
KKR plunged into deeper trouble in the next over when captain Dinesh Karthik was castled by Chahal. Four balls later, Eoin Morgan was sent back by Sundar. Half the side was back in the dugout with the score on 64.
Only a series of mighty sixes from Andre Russell could have revived KKR’s hopes, but the giant only managed one before holing out to extra cover off Udana.