IPL 2017: IPL’s joint-fastest fifty by Narine tames sorry RCB

The pitch at the Chinnaswamy stadium has slowed down considerably; it’s a fact. But try selling that to Sunil Narine, who annihilated records en route to IPL’s joint-fastest fifty ever, getting to the landmark off only 15 deliveries and winning the game even before it could be won. RCB were put in to bat, much to their liking, and managed 158 on the board, only for KKR to mount a stunning riposte, chasing it down with as many as 39 balls to spare and moving to the second spot on the points table.

Error 404: Vengeance not found

Royal Challengers Bangalore haven’t won a game since that 49 all-out at the Eden Gardens. To be fair, they never quite looked the world-beaters that they were last season, but they could have been, could have evolved into one, had Kolkata Knight Riders not mauled them by 82 runs and annulled their candidacy altogether. This game then had to have shades of vengeance – leave behind the fact that RCB are out of contention now; it’s also about context and pride – only that it hadn’t. In a lop-sided contest, RCB succumbed to a similar script: early stutter, consumption of the middle overs in revival and resultingly a score just about par, if not short.

But for Mandeep Singh, who replaced Virat Kohli as Chris Gayle’s co-opener and hit a half-century, and Travis Head’s late hits in his resurrecting 75* off 47, RCB would have been left wobbling, desperately trying to absorb the shock dismissals of their batting stars.

RCB’s bowling wheels come off, too

Law of Averages isn’t applicable to RCB’s batting, for it has become one itself, and so the bowling had to stand up, like it has, and try to defend a modest total. But for a unit that has been Virat Kohli’s go-to during press conferences, and for the right reasons, the bowling looked glaringly incompetent at home, conceding the most powerplay runs (105) in IPL.

Chris Lynn returned from his shoulder injury in style, opening his account with a boundary in Aniket Choudhary’s opening over. It looked like a Chris Lynn show in the making yet again. Sunil Narine was nowhere in the vicinity. In fact, of the first seven boundaries and sixes hit by KKR, Narine accounted for just the one. It was in Samuel Badree’s second over, the fourth of the innings, when he hit three successive sixes and a four to get going. A hat-trick of fours followed in the next over by Sreenath Aravind, and bam, Sunil Narine gets to the fastest IPL fifty with a six.

Umesh’s redemption plots mid-innings misery

In his last IPL game at the Chinnaswamy stadium, Umesh Yadav had conceded 56 off his four overs. Today, he conceded 36 and picked three wickets – that of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Pawan Negi.

Chris Gayle was out to Umesh first ball in his 100th IPL game, with the leading edge from that big bat of his carrying to Gautam Gambhir at cover. Virat Kohli was handed a lifeline on 2, when Piyush Chawla dropped him off a full toss at long on, but Umesh came back in style, bowling a back-of-the-hand slower ball to pin a clueless Kohli in front. AB de Villiers then shuffled too far across in sweeping a ball too full, and lost his stumps to Sunil Narine, who also got the half-centurion Mandeep Singh just at the start of the sixteenth over, first ball after the strategic break.

Thus, the big guns were gone inside the powerplay, leaving the rest of the team to recuperate through the middle overs, and not for the first time this season. RCB have hit the minimum number of boundaries (60) between the seventh and the fifteenth over this season, when no other team has hit less than 75 — that’s where Virat Kohli is losing the games.

A possible last for the famous T20 triumvirate

The next IPL auction has a bit of mystique about it, where even the owners are left speculating if it will be an open auction or not, but what’s certain is a major reshuffle that will beset the eight franchises.

This game against KKR was RCB’s last home assignment of the season. Now with impending overhaul in sight next year, and with Chris Gayle’s plummeting stocks now, today might just have been the last time Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle – perhaps cricket’s most intimidating T20 triumvirate ever – donned the RCB jersey together at the Chinnaswamy.

What’s next for the teams

RCB is already out of the tournament and will play their last league game against the Delhi Daredevils on Sunday (May 14). As for KKR, the qualification is almost assured and could be confirmed as early as Monday(May 8), if the Sunrisers Hyderabad lose to Mumbai Indians. Gautam Gambhir-led side’s next assignment is an away game against Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday (May 9).

Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 158/6 in 20 overs (Travis Head 75*, Mandeep Singh 52; Umesh Yadav 3-36) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 159/4 in 15.1 overs (Sunil Narine 54, Chris Lynn 50; Pawan Negi 2-21) by 6 wickets.

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