Yusuf, Russell power Knight Riders to scorching win
Kolkata Knight Riders 189 for 5 (Yusuf 60*, Russell 39, Chahal 2-27) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 185 for 7 (Rahul 52, Kohli 52, Morkel 2-28, Chawla 2-32) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan are among the most powerful strikers of the ball in world cricket. The Chinnaswamy Stadium is among the world's smaller grounds, and contains one of its flatter pitches. The ingredients came together spectacularly as Kolkata Knight Riders' Nos. 5 and 6 defied a steep asking rate and put on 96 runs in 44 balls to power their side to a five-wicket win, with five balls remaining, over Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Bowling first, Knight Riders had kept Royal Challengers quiet for 17 overs, despite half-centuries from KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Shane Watson, Sachin Baby and Stuart Binny then plundered 54 off the last three overs to lift Royal Challengers to 185.
Kohli later contended that his side's total was about 10 above par. But given Royal Challengers' bowling strength - or lack thereof, particularly with Chris Gayle's return forcing them to leave out Kane Richardson - and Knight Riders' batting depth, they might have needed 10 runs more.
Royal Challengers' bowling held up initially, with Binny's outswing removing his Karnataka team-mate Robin Uthappa in the first over, and Yuzvendra Chahal producing a ripping legbreak to bowl the leaden-footed Chris Lynn. When Gautam Gambhir and Manish Pandey fell within eight balls of each other, either side of the 10-over mark, Knight Riders were falling behind rapidly.
Knight Riders knew they could score two runs a ball with Russell and Yusuf at the crease, and their asking rate was just under 12 an over when they came together. But it was just under 12 an over for a considerable length of time: they needed 110 off 58 balls. Though the pitch was still good for batting, it was offering the quicks spongy bounce if they bent their backs, and the spinners a fair amount of grip.
In the first two full overs with Russell and Yusuf at the crease, they hit a six each, but were also beaten by Varun Aaron's bounce and Chahal's turn. This still looked like anyone's game.
The defining moment came in the 14th over, when Chahal left Russell stranded five feet down the pitch. Just like Russell, the wicketkeeper Rahul was beaten by the lack of turn, and the ball shot away for four byes. Two balls later, a quickish slider down the leg side shot past Rahul before he could react, and ran away for five wides.
Russell mis-hit, slogged, and flat-batted Tabraiz Shamsi's left-arm wristspin for six, six and four in the next over, and Knight Riders now needed 63 off the last five. Yusuf whipped Aaron to the midwicket boundary, and Russell mis-hit another six - it only just cleared the cover boundary - as Knight Riders took 16 runs from the 16th over.
Watson came on to bowl the 17th. Usually the most reliable of Royal Challengers' bowlers, he sent down two length balls - the first on the stumps and the second wide of off - and Yusuf heaved them to the midwicket and extra-cover boundaries. A bouncer followed, and Yusuf got just enough bat on his pull to fetch the ball from outside off stump and find the square-leg boundary. Then another length ball, and Yusuf easily cleared long-on. When he edged the last ball of the over to the third-man boundary, the game was over - Knight Riders now only needed 23 off 18.
Perhaps Royal Challengers would have been better served by an extra bowler because Gayle had failed on his return to the side. Knight Riders had recalled Morne Morkel, and he quickly discovered tennis-ball bounce to dismiss Gayle for 7. Bowling largely back of a length, Morkel and Russell kept Kohli and Rahul quiet in the Powerplay, denying them both room and leverage.
Rahul gave Royal Challengers impetus, taking on the spinners, and using the sweep - regular, slog and reverse - for two fours and a six off Sunil Narine. But just when Royal Challengers were shifting gear, Piyush Chawla dismissed Rahul and AB de Villiers in the space of 16 balls. Kohli joined them in the 17th over, picking out sweeper cover immediately after Gautam Gambhir had dropped a skier off him at point; Royal Challengers seemed in danger of falling short of 160.
But Knight Riders' quicks struggled in the slog overs. Umesh Yadav lost control completely, sending down two high full-tosses in the 18th, and ended with figures of 1 for 56 in four overs, with 41 coming off his last two overs. Russell gave away 13 in the 19th. In all, Watson, Baby and Binny hit seven fours and three sixes in the last three overs.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo