KKR outsmart RCB in Bengaluru

“We handed them the game. We did deserve to lose. We handed them a victory. We were certainly not up to standard,” said Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) stand-in skipper Virat Kohli after their 21-run loss to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

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Virat Kohli surely knows a thing or two about dealing in pressure match situations, but on Wednesday, the situation was different.

IPL 2023: Virat Kohli says RCB ‘handed’ the game to KKR after 21-run defeat in Bengaluru

RCB vs KKR: Venkatesh Iyer takes spectacular catch to dismiss Virat Kohli; Watch video

RCB had leaked 69 runs in the last five overs to allow KKR post 200/5 after asking them to bat first.

Once again, RCB’s death bowling plans did not go well, and once again, RCB batters succumbed to a run-chase pressure. That is not something new. We’ve seen it before, RCB have done that before.

What did RCB lack against KKR?

When tough situations like chasing down a 200-plus total in a T20 comes up, it’s important to be mentally prepared for it. Something like, come what may. So what did RCB lack against KKR?

Steady partnerships. It’s not only catches that win you game, but it’s also those big, stable partnerships that also count as match-winners.

RCB started off their chase in some confident fashion, with Kohli and Du Plessis helping their team surge towards 30 in the first two overs.

However, Du Plessis departed in the first ball of the third over, and all of a sudden, it was as though, the entire rhythm of RCB’s chase was affected. Barring a 55-run stand between Kohli and Mahipal Lomror for the fourth wicket, there was nothing much substantial for Bengaluru, and more importantly, there was nobody who could not only play the aggressor role, but also hang in there till the end.

On the contrary, KKR had two 80-plus partnerships. The first one, being the one between openers Jagadeesan and Jason Roy, and the second one between Nitish Rana and Venkatesh Iyer for the third wicket.

Harshal Patel has been a death overs specialist for RCB for a while now, but on Wednesday, he endured wicketless figures of 0/44, with more than 30 runs of these coming in the death overs.

Varun Chakaravarthy, the game-changer

In his previous game, KKR’s Varun Chakaravarthy had endured figures of 1/49. Fast forward a few days later, he is back at his best, registering figures of 3/27.

Chakaravarthy not only took regular wickets, but also he was economically the best for KKR, with an economy rate of 6.75.

Varun’s first wicket was that of Glenn Maxwell, who holed out to Andre Russell at mid-off while looking to go big.

He later struck again in the 12th over, removing Mahipal Lomror with a wode outside off ball. Lomror went full the pull, but instead holed out Russell at deep midwicket, who took the catch.

If the contest was not done yet, Varun returned to haunt RCB towards the end of the match. In the 18th over, he got the wicket of Dinesh Karthik (22) who pulled it towards the deep, where the fielder completed the catch.

It’s not the variations that Varun is working on, instead, it’s the accuracy of a delivery.

“That’s how the game of cricket is. Last match I went for 49, today I get this award. My focus is on my accuracy, not to add variations. I have been working a lot,” said a confident Varun after the match.

RCB, meanwhile, will look to get things right. They dropped a few chances for catches on the field against KKR, probably one of the reasons why they leaked a lot more runs than they would have anticipated.

RCB will next get the chance to bounce back when they face Lucknow Super Giants on Monday, while KKR meet Gujarat Titans at Eden Gardens on Saturday.

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