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36th Match (D/N), Eden Gardens, April 21, 2024, Indian Premier League

KKR won by 1 run

Player Of The Match
27* (20) & 3/25
Cricinfo's MVP
119.24 ptsImpact List

KKR survive Karn scare to win by one run

With 21 runs to get off the final over, Karn nearly pulled off a miracle, but Knight Riders and Phil Salt held their nerve to effect a run-out off the last ball

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
Kolkata Knight Riders 222 for 6 (Shreyas 50, Salt 48, Green 2-35) beat Royal Challengers Bengaluru 221 (Jacks 55, Patidar 52, Russell 3-25) by one run
Mitchell Starc had 20 runs to defend and he nearly didn't. In the course of six balls, he exemplified just how difficult it is to be a bowler in T20 cricket, and how he will always fly in the face of it. Having been hit for three sixes in the final over which reduced the equation down to 3 off 2, he went to his bread and butter. He went pace on. He went yorker. And he produced a wicket. Karn Sharma, who had brought this game back from the dead, was gone. As soon as the catch was taken - Starc himself diving low to his right in his followthrough - RCB knew there were no more miracles.
Ramandeep Singh contrived to give them one. His throw from deep point was poor. It didn't come in quick enough or straight enough. It left the wicketkeeper with a lot to do. Phil Salt, though, was fine with it. He was alert enough to step forward and shrink the distance the ball had to travel and then agile enough to fling his whole body at the stumps and break it before the No. 11 Lockie Ferguson could make his ground and trigger a Super Over. KKR had won, by one run, and maybe five inches.

Plans made, plans fall apart

RCB did beautifully to keep Sunil Narine quiet. While most teams do know not to give him any room, they went a step further, dropped all pretense and tried to bowl nothing but leg-stump yorkers. KKR's biggest hitter this season needed eight balls to get off the mark. Salt came to his rescue though hitting 10 of the first 13 balls to the boundary and flirting with the fastest fifty of IPL 2024. He could have had it too but in going for another six - to a ball that was very hittable - he got caught at deep midwicket. Still, 48 off 14 with seven fours and three sixes is nothing to scoff at.

The middle overs slowdown

Karn bowled the first boundary-less over in the 10th. Cameron Green was keeping Rinku Singh quiet, their head-to-head for the first six balls yielding three dots and two singles. The Australian had used his height to great effect earlier, leaping up to catch a ball that was 8.1m off the ground and travelling fast, to dismiss Angkrish Raghuvanshi. Now, he was digging off-pace deliveries into the pitch and getting them to soar past Rinku's bat swing. Even with Shreyas Iyer scoring his first IPL fifty since May 2022, RCB had the better of the middle overs (economy rate 8, from 12.5 in the powerplay). Ferguson, who conceded a boundary with every ball of his first over, gave up only one more after that in the next three. He also took a wicket, a skillful use of the knuckle ball which got big on Rinku and took away his power.

Small margins

Andre Russell had walked in during the 14th over. At the time of the 18th, he was still 11 off 13 with only one hit to the fence, and still, he was toying with the bowlers.
Yash Dayal was desperate to keep the ball out of his hitting arc, which forced him to spray one too wide outside off and another too wide outside leg, which also beat the keeper and went for four. To make matters worse, he had overstepped.
Dayal was only trying to do the right thing but it is so hard in this format. A nine-ball 17th over ended with Shreyas pinging the long-on boundary twice and yielding 22 runs. RCB trusted him to close the innings out but that over went for 16. Once again, he did the right things. Went wide yorker, but missed the mark and got hit. Took pace off, but Muscle Russell found a way. Recovered to string two yorkers and a bouncer that cost only three runs but the last ball was cleverly ramped for four by Ramandeep. KKR 222 for 6.

Jacks and Patidar step up

Angry Virat Kohli made an appearance after a long time, disputing the technology that gave him out off a full toss that he was certain was over waist high. Faf du Plessis couldn't stick around for long enough. RCB were in familiar dire straits once again when two of their least heralded players decided to shoot their shot.
Will Jacks took down Starc in the final over of the powerplay, hitting him for three sixes and a four. The whole over was symptomatic of the way KKR had bowled to him, pace on and in the slot. A tall batter with a strong front foot game loves it there. So did the RCB fans who were sat down the ground or at midwicket.
At the other end, Rajat Patidar found his rhythm. He has looked short of confidence ever since he was dropped by India during the Tests against England. A batter who relies on feel more than technique was struggling to get it back, until it all came back, and he was sitting pretty with a 21-ball fifty. He scored 16 off 8 off Narine, with two sixes, and 30 off 9 against Suyash Sharma, with three sixes and two fours.

Russell goes slow, Starc goes fast

RCB were 77% favourites at this point, needing 86 off 54 balls. Then on came Russell for his first over of the night and knocked over both of RCB's half-centurions. For a guy who wants to look like a UFC fighter, he keeps sucker-punching people. Running in nice and hard. Properly powering through his action. That tree-trunk like shoulder whipping the ball down the pitch. But then the fingers do their magic, and all of a sudden, a batter prepping for 140kph is caught off guard with 115kph.
Starc has not learned that lesson yet. He has found all his success - even here in the IPL when he was wearing the opposition's colours - by trusting his pace and his accuracy. According to ESPNcricnfo ball-by-ball data, he has attempted a slower ball only 11 times this season. It is part of why he has given up 44 boundaries, the most by any bowler in IPL 2024. The opposition sets up for his thunderbolts, which in India, don't always kiss the pitch and fly through. They sometimes sit up to be smacked.
However, people under pressure trust what has worked for them in the past and the Starc yorker is still money. He went for it. It came out as a low full toss. Karn, who had already carved three sixes off near yorkers, set up to smash it down the ground. But this time he couldn't get enough power on it. He could only bunt it and Starc was agile enough to dive to his right and come up with a blinder. That was the decisive play in a game full of them. Pace on for the win. Who knew.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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

Over 20 • RCB 221/10

Karn Sharma c & b Starc 20 (7b 0x4 3x6 17m) SR: 285.71
Lockie Ferguson run out (Singh/†Salt) 1 (1b 0x4 0x6 2m) SR: 100
KKR won by 1 run
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