IPL 2021: RCB knock the Knights to remain unbeaten

James Jose/Chennai
Filed on April 18, 2021
AB de Villiers of Royal Challengers Bangalore plays a shot during the IPL match against Kolkata Knight Riders. — ANI

Andre Russell's 31 off 20 balls late in the KKR innings gave them hope of pulling off an epic chase

It is still early days to talk about a title shout and the beauty of sport is such that anything can happen further down the line. But the Royal Challengers Bangalore have not put a foot wrong until now, with their third victory on the bounce, in this season’s IPL.

Thirteen years to the day when a certain Brendon McCullum announced the arrival of the cash-rich league with a sublime century to set up a high total and a comprehensive win for the Kolkata Knight Riders at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, it was time for a payback from the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

And they did that in stellar fashion by eking out a 38-run win at Chepauk in Chennai on Sunday night. The victory, in the first afternoon game of the season, was built on a strong all-round performance with both bat and ball, to retake the top spot on the table from reigning champions Mumbai Indians. RCB are the only team to remain unbeaten in the tournament and have six points.

RCB put a horror start of losing two wickets for nine — those of captain and opener Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar — to rack up 204 for four, on the back of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers’ pyrotechnics at the back end of the innings. Maxwell continued his bright start for his fourth and latest franchise with a well-crafted and sublime 78 from 49 deliveries, spiced with nine boundaries, while ABD unfurled one of those superhuman innings once again — a 34-ball 76 which was garnished with nine boundaries and a six. ABD’s blitz saw RCB biff 70 runs from the last five overs to swell their total.

The Kolkata Knight Riders flirted with that mammoth total but the RCB bowlers nipped them whenever they posed a challenge. New Zealand pacer Kyle Jamieson snapped up three wickets, including two in the 18th over, while Harshal Patel continued his reign as the Purple Cap holder with two wickets swelling the medium pacer’s tally to nine. Meanwhile, leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal ended his drought by picking up two wickets. The 30-year-old, an important cog in the RCB wheel, had been wicketless, conceding 70 runs in eight overs, until Sunday.

Andre Russell, who had scored 339 runs in 152 balls against RCB in their previous encounters, attempted to make a fist of it at the fag end, but once the West Indian fell after making a 20-ball 31 with three fours and two sixes, they were KKR were resigned to their fate.

“Maxi (Maxwell) has taken this team like duck to water. AB (de Villiers) loves the team and they were the difference today (Sunday). There are areas we can work on. We are not getting ahead of ourselves and not getting over-excited,” Kohli, who had required 56 runs to become the first to reach 6000 runs in the IPL, told the host broadcaster.

The teams ended their league engagements in Chennai and now move to Mumbai.

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