IPL 2021: Before the beginning of the IPL second leg in the UAE, Virat Kohli revealed his intention to step down as captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). His team was poised to make the playoffs. His squad was ready to put the icing on his unsuccessful IPL captaincy cake when it did so by building on its steady performance from the first half.
It was not meant to be. The three-time champions were eliminated by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who won the Eliminator in Sharjah on Monday by four wickets and two balls to spare, prolonging the Bangalore franchise's apparently never-ending cycle of optimism, despair, more hope, and more misery. After the loss, Kohli stated of his captaincy, "All I can say is I've tried my best."
Former champions KKR were in despair twice during India's leg, but they are now two victories away from lifting the trophy after winning a close live T20 game to face Delhi Capitals in the second qualifier on Wednesday.
On a field that gripped for the bowlers, a 139-run chase wasn't going to be easy, and KKR needed to get off to a quick start. Shubman Gill did just that, hitting three straight fours from George Garton to start the third over of his 18-ball 29 before Harshal Patel's class and change of pace terminated his innings.
Venkatesh Iyer was unable to match his partner's speed, resulting in a 48-run powerplay for KKR. Soon after, Kohli introduced spin, and Yuzvendra Chahal trapped Rahul Tripathi with a googly. RCB only had part-time off-spinner Glenn Maxwell to compliment Chahal as KKR attacked with their spin trio. The Australians let up 13 runs in the tenth over, including a missed chance for Iyer by Shahbaz Ahmed. The southpaw, on the other hand, gloved a short ball from Patel down the leg side in the following over.
It was anyone's game with 60 required from nine overs. It shifted towards KKR thanks to a tactical masterstroke and a power-hitting cameo. Narine, who was once feared as a dangerous opener, was brought in to take a swing. So he swung it, and it took off. On the leg side, two back-to-back sixes were followed by a one-handed heave that sailed right above and over the ropes. Dan Christian and RCB were given a heavy blow.
Narine single-handedly reduced the equation to 39 off 48 balls, and it was then simply a matter of batting intelligently. Before Mohammed Siraj's twin strike sent back Narine and Dinesh Karthik in the 18th over, Rana threw away his wicket. With 12 required off 12, Shakib Al Hasan and Eoin Morgan-the KKR skipper who couldn't seem to find a run this season-showed their expertise, the latter's ramp shot for four on the first ball of the last over completed the job for KKR as a glum Kohli watched on.
Even the in-form Maxwell struggled against this excellent three, striking mostly at less than 100 during his 18-ball stint. RCB's chances of injecting life into a fading inning evaporated after he top-edged a Narine delivery to a short third man in the 17th over.
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