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9th Match (N), Eden Gardens, April 06, 2023, Indian Premier League

KKR won by 81 runs

Player Of The Match
68 (29) & 1/15
Cricinfo's MVP
125.83 ptsImpact List

Shardul and spinners dismantle RCB

Coming in at 89 for 5, Shardul smashed 68 off 29 before Narine, Varun and Suyash derailed Royal Challengers' chase

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Shardul Thakur hit an aggressive fifty  •  BCCI

Shardul Thakur hit an aggressive fifty  •  BCCI

Kolkata Knight Riders 204 for 7 (Thakur 68, Gurbaz 57, Willey 2-16) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 123 (du Plessis 23, Varun 4-15, Suyash 3-30) by 81 runs
Eleven-and-a-half overs into Kolkata Knight Riders' return to Eden Gardens, it seemed they were looking at a long, painful IPL ahead. Having lost the first match, they were 89 for 5. Andre Russell had got out for a golden duck. Shardul Thakur nearly became Karn Sharma's hat-trick victim, but then fashioned one of the remarkable IPL turnarounds.
Thakur's 68 off 29 - second-highest score for a No. 7 in the IPL - took KKR to 204 - the highest total for a team five down for less than 100. It was still probably just a par score with small boundaries and a quick outfield. It looked so when Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli gave Royal Challengers Bangalore a flying start, but the two mystery spinners, Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy, ran through their batting to give them a reality check in an IPL they start as one of the favourites.

Willey slots right in

At some point in the lead-up to the match, Royal Challengers learnt that Reece Topley would be missing the whole IPL after he injured himself during the first match. Minutes in, David Willey showed he could be the perfect replacement. He cleaned up Venkatesh Iyer with seam movement in, and then squared Mandeep Singh up with a wobble-seam delivery to kiss the off stump. The latter put him on a hat-trick. Willey's figures of 3-1-9-0 in the powerplay were offset by the profligate Mohammed Siraj and Akash Deep, who leaked 38 from the other end.

Gurbaz stopped short by Karn

Even as the wickets fell and the fans questioned Knight Riders' work at the auction table, one acquisition, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, continued to show promise. His execution of aggressive intent took him to his first IPL fifty, off 38 balls despite losing four leg-glanced runs to a wrong leg-bye call. The first non-Gurbaz boundary came in the 11th over, but he had taken them to 79 for 3 in those ten overs. A good total was still on.
In the 12th over, Gurbaz middled a reverse sweep off Karn Sharma but found short third to perfection. Not for the first time, Knight Riders were down to Andre Russell or bust. Bust it appeared to be as Russell tried to hit the first ball for a six, and found long-off.

Thakur takes over

The hat-trick ball that Thakur faced was the farthest from an indicator of things to come. Big back lift, looking to drive a legbreak into the covers, inside-edging the wrong'un. The only sign of things to come was that the edge went all the way for four.
Thakur's next boundary was two balls later, a picture-perfect leg glance off Deep, aided by the small boundary and the quick outfield. Then he drove Deep over extra cover. In the same over, he got a free hit, which he deposited over wide long-on.
What followed was what you expect from an innings of 68 off 29. A lot of powerful shots that he kept nailing, and three more mis-hits that fell bang between the infield and the boundary riders. The strikes into the leg side were so crisply hit they managed to avoid as many as four boundary riders.
Rinku Singh, at the other end, kept turning the strike over before joining in the fireworks in the last two overs. From 23 off 25 he went on to get 46 off 33. The turnaround began when he scooped a high full toss from Siraj for a six.
Siraj, in particular, and others, in general, were ordinary at the death. It was indeed a day when everything Thakur did was coming off, but Siraj, for example, bowled the last two overs with mid-off up and got hit over the fielder three times. None of them was a manufactured shot. Royal Challengers conceded 23 runs in extras.

The chase nosedives

Royal Challengers didn't go into panic mode. Du Plessis and Kohli even gave themselves a sighter for two overs before laying into pace. The fourth over, bowled by Tim Southee, went for 23.
It looked like it was game on when Narine was introduced in the fifth over. Coming off a rare match in which he went at ten an over, Narine immediately settled into the perfect line and length. Five balls in, he had Kohli bowled through the gate. In the next over, Varun had du Plessis bowled as the carrom ball didn't turn and took the inside edge.
Royal Challengers tried funky things - sending Michael Bracewell at No. 3 and Harshal Patel at No. 4 - but the spinners were just too good. There was an assortment of deliveries, but almost all of them were hitting the stumps. Varun bowled Harshal and Glenn Maxwell, Narine had Shahbaz Ahmed caught.
Thakur came in to take a wicket third ball, and the debutant legspinner Suyash Sharma, who bowled predominantly wrong'uns, some seam-up deliveries, and the odd legbreak - ended up with three late wickets.
When Varun came back and took his fourth wicket to end the match, Knight Riders had taken nine wickets through spin, the most in an IPL match.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
KKR 100%
100%50%100%KKR InningsRCB Innings

Over 18 • RCB 123/10

Akash Deep c & b Varun 17 (8b 2x4 1x6 14m) SR: 212.5
KKR won by 81 runs
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