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Russell’s heroics with the ball seal last-ball win for Kolkata

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Kolkata, April 21: Karn Sharma’s scarcely believable last-over assault on Mitchell Starc gave Royal Challengers Bengaluru a glimmer of hope but the Kolkata Knight Riders kept their nerves to eke out a one-run win off the last ball in their IPL match here on Sunday.
The Royal Challengers required 21 runs off the last over bowled by left-arm pacer Starc while chasing a daunting 223-run target set by the Knight Riders. The result seemed a foregone conclusion with Karn and Mohammed Siraj at the crease, but the former nearly turned the match on its head.
Karn, a leg-spinner with no real pedigree with the bat, hammered three sixes off Starc to reduce the margin to three runs off two balls. But Starc redeemed himself taking a return catch to dismiss Karn (20, 7b, 3×6) and Lockie Ferguson was run out off the last ball as RCB ended up at 222 all out in 20 overs.
However, in a match with more twists and turns than a hilly road, it was KKR who first snatched the initiative making 222 for six around opener Phil Salt’s aggressive 14-ball 48 and skipper Shreyas Iyer’s composed 36-ball 50.
But the Royal Challengers were not bogged down by the imposing nature of their chase. Will Jacks (55, 32b; 4×4, 5×6) and Rajat Patidar (52; 23b, 3×4, 5×6) laid a fine foundation through a 102-run alliance for the third wicket that came off just 48 balls.But from 137 for 2, RCB soon slipped to 155 for 6 with Andre Russell inflicting a double blow dismissing both Jacks and Russell inside three balls with his clever variation of slower balls.
Sunil Narine (2/34) also claimed two wickets in his final over to reduce RCB to 155 for six but Dinesh Karthik kept their hopes alive in a splendid partnership with Impact Sub Suyash Prabhudesai.
Returning to bowl in the penultimate over, Russell dismissed Karthik with a slower ball to make the equation tougher for RCB — 21 runs off six balls. Karn nearly dragged RCB over the line but the Eden Gardens night belonged to the Knights as they aced the final moments of a heart-stopper.
KKR now have five wins from seven matches and climbed to second spot with 10 points, two behind leaders Rajasthan Royals.
This was RCB’s sixth loss on the trot, and seventh in eight matches, as their campaign is as good as over, lying on 10th with just two points.
But RCB had their moments as Jacks was at his furious best against Starc, spanking him for 22 runs in an over en route his 29-ball fifty, his second in four matches.
Jacks’ show rubbed on Patidar who produced a 21-ball fifty, taking KKR’s best bowler Narine to cleaners as RCB maintained a run-rate over 12.
Virat Kohli began with a first-ball boundary and pulled Harshit Rana for a six in the first over before taking on Starc with disdain.
He backed away to a delivery on his legs to hammer it over fine-leg and the whole Eden was chanting ‘Kohli, Kohli’.But his inning was cut short in a debatable fashion when Kohli was given out to a delivery that seemed a waist-high full toss with Rana taking a return catch.
He was out of his crease at the time of impact but the replays confirmed that the ball was dipping in its trajectory as the decision was upheld upon review. (PTI)

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