A couple of coincidences basically wrote the script for Friday's match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders. Two weeks ago, Andre Russell had helped Knight Riders get 53 off 18 in the chase against Sunrisers Hyderabad. He faced a similar equation on Friday night against Royal Challengers. Last season, MS Dhoni hunted down 105 off 48 balls against the home team in Bengaluru. This time, Knight Riders were were also chasing a target of 206, with Russell in the middle.
After AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli's fireworks had kept the fans on their feet for most of Royal Challengers' innings, it seemed like the side was finally going to taste their first win this season. But it took just one Russell innings, and some blunders in the middle from Royal Challengers, to undo their batsmen's efforts as Knight Riders stole a stunning win in the 19th over. Here's how it all turned the wrong way for the hosts.
Sloppiness on the field
Dropped catches, misfield, conceding too many extras: Royal Challengers did it all. During Knight Riders' innings, Navdeep Saini missed a chance to pluck the dangerous Chris Lynn out for 1 after he had top-edged a ball over the keeper's head. With Lynn going on to lay the foundation for Knight Riders' big chase, the missed chance proved to be a costly one.
Much later, Lynn had raced to a 28-ball 42 when Marcus Stoinis tempted him with a wide delivery which he hit over Mohammed Siraj at sweeper cover, who failed to hold on to it. At this point, Knight Riders were very well on course, with their run-rate close to 10. While the drop itself wasn't costly - Lynn added only one more run before he was dismissed in the next over - the missed opportunity came at a time when Royal Challengers were losing momentum and under the pump, and it left captain Kohli fuming.
Where was Moeen?
Lynn's vulnerability to spin is no secret. In T20s since 2015, he's been dismissed 33 times by spinners and averages just about 30 against them. Yet, Kohli brought in legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal only in the sixth over, and by then, Lynn had already dominated the Powerplay.
And even though spinners, specifically left-arm spinner Pawan Negi, impeded the scoring in the middle overs, Kohli was still persistent about bowling his quicks even with the experienced Moeen Ali - who did not bowl a single over - in the mix.
Negi, who was introduced only in the 10th over of the chase, went on to pick Robin Uthappa and Lynn and had 2 for 20 at the end of his third over. Royal Challengers' have left themselves open to questions about their lack of planning but Kohli, speaking to the host broadcaster after the match, suggested that just giving his team-mates some space would help them come back stronger.
Fast bowlers show no chill at death
Death bowling has always been one of Royal Challengers' major concerns. The Knight Riders' win was the ninth time a team had won an IPL game when over 90 runs were needed off seven overs. And surprisingly - or perhaps not - Royal Challengers were the bowling side on six of those occasions.
Particularly on Friday, Royal Challengers' quicks seemed to lack composure towards the end, even when the opposition needed a steep 66 runs off 24 balls.
It all started when Mohammed Siraj bowled his second beamer on the fourth ball of the 18th over, which meant he couldn't bowl any more in the match. Russell had smoked that ball for a six. Stoinis replaced Siraj, and from there, the home side lost whatever control they had. Two more sixes were smashed in the next two balls and the game turned in Knight Riders' favour.
Tim Southee, who was brought in to bowl the next over, with 30 required off 12, was misfiring throughout. Russell feasted on ones that were short, wide too full or on a length. Southee also didn't try and cramp Russell for space, offering generous width instead. That over pretty much sealed it - 29 runs came off it and Knight Riders then needed just one to win off the final over.