Kolkata Knight Riders 94 for 1 (Gill 48, Iyer 41*) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 92 (Padikkal 22, Russell 3-9, Varun 3-13) by nine wickets
Both teams had played seven games before the IPL was put on hold in May, with contrasting fortunes: Royal Challengers Bangalore had five wins and Kolkata Knight Riders had five losses. On Monday night in Abu Dhabi, though, it looked like the two teams had swapped their fates, with Knight Riders' bowlers putting in a clinical performance to bowl Royal Challengers out for just 92, their third-lowest while batting first in the IPL. The big three of Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers fell for 5, 10 and 0 respectively.
Once Royal Challengers were reduced to 63 for 5, mystery spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine kept the middle and lower order guessing with their guile and turn.
Knight Riders will be hoping their dominant nine-wicket win will turn their tournament around, pushing them up to fifth on the points table from second-to-last. Their top order chased the paltry target down rather easily, with Shubman Gill and debutant Venkatesh Iyer put on an opening stand of 82 in just 9.1 overs.
WATCH - Andre Russell sends AB de Villiers back for a first-ball duck
How Royal Challengers came a cropper
If the Royal Challengers batters looked scratchy and rusty, the Knight Riders bowlers were right on the money. They bowled in the corridor, surprised the batters with pace and bounce on a spongy pitch, beat them with mystery spin, and barely offered any room for the big shots.
Kohli struck the first four of the match with a spectacular punch through the covers but he was dismissed next ball by an inducker from Prasidh Krishna which beat his flick. Kohli used the review, but the umpire had got it right and his team's only batting review was gone in the second over. Devdutt Padikkal struck three fours but KS Bharat, debuting for Royal Challengers, struggled for fluency with lack of timing and placement. Once Padikkal edged Lockie Ferguson behind and Bharat pulled to deep square leg, all hopes rested on the duo of de Villiers and Maxwell to salvage the innings.
But Andre Russell extinguished those hopes by slipping in a leg-stump yorker to bowl de Villiers for a golden duck, after he had mostly been sending down short balls. The runs dried up further and Maxwell's frustration was evident as he crawled to 10 off 16 without a single boundary.
Varun's near hat-trick finishes off Royal Challengers
Sachin Baby took six balls to get off the mark, and Prasidh and Ferguson kept getting good bounce coupled with their precision before Varun returned for the 12th over. He took the pace off and flicked his fingers over three successive deliveries that turned in to beat Maxwell, debutant Wanindu Hasaranga and Kyle Jamieson for a near hat-trick. Maxwell missed his hoick and was bowled, Hasaranga was trapped lbw for a duck, and Jamieson was trapped in front as well but given not out. Varun pleaded Eoin Morgan to take the review but the captain knew there was an edge.
There was not much to save Royal Challengers from 63 for 6 as Varun also got Baby in his next over and ran Jamieson out at the non-striker's end by deflecting the ball to the stumps. He finished with stunning figures of 3 for 13 including 15 dot balls.
Russell took the last wicket and finished with 3 for 9 from three overs. All five Knight Riders bowlers sent down at least 10 dot balls each to strangle the opposition.
Gill, Iyer make short work of the chase
Iyer, the 26-year-old left-hand batter who plays for Madhya Pradesh, showed immediately why he was given his maiden IPL cap on Monday. Using his over-six-feet-tall frame, he drove and punched Mohammed Siraj on the off side for successive fours in the first over but his best shot came at the end of the fifth over when Gill had already taken Jamieson for two fours. Iyer charged down against the tall bowler to loft a glorious six over long-on to make it 16 off the over.
Gill was equally fluent with his pulls and drives at the other end, nearly scoring his first half-century of IPL 2021. He also skipped down against Jamieson early on, and welcomed Yuzvendra Chahal in the last over of the powerplay with two slog sweeps against the turn for two more fours. Once they had 56 on the board in the powerplay, Knight Riders only needed another 24 balls to finish things off. Gill holed out to long-off in the 10th - and final - over before Iyer unleashed three fours in four balls off Chahal - a reverse sweep, a loft down the ground and a pull to midwicket - to seal victory.