IPL 2021, Eliminator: KKR beat RCB to reach Qualifier 2
Kolkata Knight Riders defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator of the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) season. The match went down to the wire as KKR chased 139. Kolkata have stormed into the Qualifier 2 where they will face Delhi Capitals. Besides, Virat Kohli's captaincy stint with RCB ends as the Bangalore-based franchise have been knocked out of the tournament.
Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli started well after RCB elected to bat. They added 49 runs before the former departed. The boundaries dried up for RCB thereafter. RCB's middle order yet again disappointed as they managed 138/7 in 20 overs. KKR stumbled in the middle overs after making a fruitful start. Eoin Morgan and Shakib Al Hasan brought them home in the final over.
Narine turned out to be a roadblock for RCB in the first innings. The mystery spinner dismissed Srikar Bharat, Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Glenn Maxwell respectively. He conceded just 21 runs in his four overs. Narine now has the most four-wicket hauls in the IPL (7). He was earlier tied with Lasith Malinga (6) on the list.
Once again, RCB pinned their hopes on Glenn Maxwell after the top order failed to capitalize. Maxwell settled down for a while but couldn't give RCB the finishing touch. Nevertheless, the Australian batter completed 500 runs in the ongoing season. This is the first season since 2014 wherein he has crossed the 500-run mark. Maxwell smashed 552 runs at 34.50 in that season.
Maxwell is the second player besides Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Chris Gayle to aggregate over 500 runs in a season for RCB after Jacques Kallis. The latter smashed 572 runs at an average of 47.67 in the 2010 season.
Kohli looked sturdy at the start. He focused more on rotating the strike and reducing the dot ball percentage. He set an ideal platform for a big innings, however, Narine got rid of him. The RCB skipper completed 400 runs in the ongoing season. He has reached the 400-run mark in a season for the eighth time, the joint-second-most along with Shikhar Dhawan.
Harshal Patel has been RCB's go-to bowler this season. Today as well, he brought RCB in the hunt by removing Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer. By taking his 32nd wicket in the season, Patel equaled Dwayne Bravo's all-time record of most wickets in an IPL season. The former is the only Indian bowler to have taken 30 or more wickets in a season.
KKR will face Delhi Capitals in the Qualifier 2. The Knight Riders have reached this stage in the tournament for the first time since 2018. They lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 2 in that edition. KKR have an opportunity to win their third IPL title. They were crowned champions in 2012 and 2014 under Gautam Gambhir.