BENGALURU: At a venue, which is supposed to be a bowlers’ graveyard, RCB bowlers cranked up the heat which sent Kolkata Knight Riders’ hope of their third win on the trot up in smoke. At the halfway stage of their Indian Premier League campaign, Virat Kohli’s men, powered by a red-hot AB de Villiers, first fired with the bat before spin duo Washington Sundar (2/20) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1/12) strangled the former champions with guile and control. The pacers didn’t disappoint either.
Chasing 195 for victory, the power-packed KKR batting line-up failed to stand up to the count and mustered 112/9 as the fiery Bengaluru team cruised to an 82- run victory in Sharjah to collect two points.
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Sundar and Chahal ensured the boundaries dried up and put pressure on the batsmen, who played into their hands. RCB bowlers, often the subject of ridicule for failing to defend totals, turned in one of their finest bowling performances in recent years and all of them deservingly ended up with wickets.

Opener Tom Banton, coming in place of Sunil Narine who has been reported for suspected bowling action, did no justice to the promotion up the order. Navdeep Saini ended his guard in the fourth over and that virtually opened the gates. Barring Shubman Gill (34), the rest of the line-up fell in a heap.
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The smaller boundaries at the Sharjah cricket stadium is akin to that of RCB’s home ground M Chinnaswamy stadium. Over the years, De Villiers has lit up the stadium in Bengaluru with his electrifying shots. On a muggy night, the South African ace set alight the Sharjah ground and the road beyond it with his blistering 33-ball 73. His unbeaten knock included five hits to the rope and six beyond it.

Opting to bat in their maiden outing at the venue, RCB recovered from mid-innings blues to post 194 for 2 in 20 overs. The score was courtesy De Villiers daredevilry and skipper Kohli’s (33 n.o, 28b, 1×4) support. KKR’s fine efforts were undone after the 15th over with 83 runs coming off the last five overs. The two batsmen, who have amassed 3,000 runs in their partnership at the franchise, were involved in an unbroken 108-run alliance.

After a three-match lull, the opening pair of Aaron Finch (47, 37b, 4×4, 1×6) and Devdutt Padikkal (32, 23b, 4×4, 1×6) gave RCB a good start with their 67-run partnership. Both batsmen failed to build on the start and played into the hands of the KKR bowlers, who foxed them with constant change of pace. Andre Russell broke the association when he sent Padikkal’s middle stump cartwheeling. Finch, who was put down on 19 by Kamlesh Nagarkoti, lost his stumps after exposing them to a fuller delivery from pacer Prasidh Krishna.
Kohli was waiting to cut loose when De Villiers announced his intentions. Coming to the crease in the 13th over, De Villiers took just two balls to settle down before smashing Prasidh towards the long-off boundary. He waited for a slower delivery from Nagarkoti to launch a big one, which he did over long-on and hit the next one out of the park. With his partner in rampaging form, Kohli was happy to rotate the strike and take the best seat in the house to watch the fireworks.
RCB decided to go with an extra bowler and pacer Mohammed Siraj took Gurkeerat Mann’s place in the line-up.





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