BEIJING—For the world’s best sprinters, passing the baton in the 4x400 relay is about as easy as rolling out of bed in the morning.
Picking a winner in that race used to be easy, too.
ABU DHABI—Sunil Narine’s brilliance was not enough this time around as Kolkata Knight Riders slipped to their second loss of the Indian Premier League, with a 23-run defeat to King XI Punjab here yesterday. Playing at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Kolkata held Kings XI to a meagre 132 for nine after winning the toss but then failed to mount a decent batting challenge and collapsed to 109 all out off 18.2 overs. Narine was once against at the forefront of Kolkata’s attack, grabbing three for 24 from his four overs to undermine Kings XI’s innings. Opener Virender Sehwag top scored with 37 from 30 balls but no other batsman passed 20 as leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, with three for 19, and then Narine, crippled the Kings XI innings.
However, Kolkata fared even worse when they batted, as 20-year-old seamer Sandeep Sharma claimed three for 21, to spearhead Kings XI attack. Only Suryakumar Yadav with 34 made it past 20. In the other game of the day at the same venue, Royal Challengers Bangalore still without West Indies batting star Chris Gayle, were bundled out for 70, to lose by six wickets to Rajasthan Royals. Windies seamer Ravi Rampaul scored 13 for RCB and sent down four overs for just 16 runs but could not prevent the Royals from cruising to victory in 13 overs.
After Kohli was asked to bat, he said he would have done that anyway had he won the toss. What was to follow, however, wouldn’t have figured even in his worst nightmare. This was a pitch with something for the bowlers. There was some seam and bounce, and also a bit of swing. But considering the kind of shots Royal Challengers played, they would have been in trouble on almost any surface.
A couple of dots in the opening over were enough for Yogesh Takawale to charge out and heave at Stuart Binny, only to edge a gentle outswinger to the keeper. Kohli walked in and took a wicket off his first ball. His call for a single following a push to off was so late Parthiv Patel, not the best of runners, had little chance of making it across. Yuvraj Singh had a nervy seven-ball stay. He was beaten a couple of times by Tim Southee, and almost yorked himself. Then Kane Richardson trotted in and sent down a 129.6 kph outswinger. And Yuvraj promptly followed it and tickled it to second slip. At 5 for 3, Royal Challengers had their best pair in the middle to combat the crisis. Instead, AB de Villiers played on first ball, attempting a half-hearted back-foot punch without having the width. Kohli needed someone to just last for a few overs. But that was asking for too much.
Three quiet overs later, Sachin Rana played on to Shane Watson in the same manner as de Villiers. Albie Morkel is used to coming in at the death to try and hit his big sixes, but even the Powerplay was not over yet this time. His second ball against spin, Morkel went for a big six, and holed out off a googly from Pravin Tambe. Kohli must have surely been fuming inside, but the very next ball, he calmly swatted Tambe for four through extra cover. First ball of the next over, he stepped out and lifted Southee over mid-on. That was about as close as Royal Challengers were coming to a fightback. In Tambe’s next over, Kohli received a half-tracker and pulled it straight to midwicket. Mitchell Starc and Ravi Rampaul helped their side move past 58, before Tambe wrapped up the innings to end with 4 for 20, his best IPL figures. The RCB pair bowled their hearts out, but by the time Starc reduced Royals to 36 for three, they were already more than half way to their target. (Cricinfo)
Rajasthan Royals 71 for 4 (Starc 2-29) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 70 (Tambe 4-20, Richardson 2-18) by six wickets.
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