Despite cruising at one stage with just 11 needed off the final three overs, KXIP inexplicably left it till the final ball of the match, on which Nicholas Pooran smashed a six down the ground to score the winning runs.
Chasing 172 to win, KXIP chose to continue opening with their successful pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal despite veteran T20 opener Chris Gayle playing in the XI. The move worked well as the openers, Mayank Agarwal in particular, looked in no trouble against RCB's bowlers. It was only as a bold Yuzvendra Chahal tossed one up to beat Mayank's slog to hit the stumps that RCB sensed an opening.
For a period in the game, RCB looked to be clawing their way back in, with the run rate climbing on occasions above 9. Gayle, playing his first game since January, looked quite rusty and at one stage was on 3 off 11 balls, thereby putting pressure on Rahul at the other end. At that point, it was Rahul who restarted the innings with two sixes off Siraj.
Soon after, Gayle found his form returning, and hit RCB's most economical bowler of the season Washington Sundar for two sixes immediately after. A barrage of sixes and fours meant that at one stage, KXIP looked like finishing off the match within the 18th over.
And then KXIP pulled a plug on the boundaries, probably desperate to not throw this one away. In the process, RCB applied the squeeze until the final ball, including inducing a Gayle run-out. Ultimately, Pooran's six restored sanity to the proceedings and gave KXIP the win.
Morris' late finish takes RCB to 171/6
Opting to bat first at Sharjah, RCB started well, with the openers compiling a brisk 38-run partnership up top. Once the openers fell, there was a period of slow scoring as batsmen found the boundaries slightly hard to come by. Once again, Virat Kohli played a scrappy innings where he ran hard when the boundaries didn't flow freely.
RCB, however, made some questionable decisions with their batting order - justified later by Kohli as being in pursuit of a left-hand, right-hand batting combination once the openers departed.
In came Washington Sundar, who has hardly batted in the top 4 for any IPL team - and unfortunately, he showed why. His 13 off 14 hardly put pressure on the KXIP bowlers, further slowing the innings.
The man in imperious form, AB de Villiers, only came in at number six. Facing a grand total of 5 balls, De Villiers departed mistiming a loft for a simple catch in the inner circle. Shivam Dube too flattered to deceive and did not justify his promotion ahead of RCB's batting maestro.
The innings looked set for a sloppy finish, until the bowling all-rounders in Chris Morris (25 off 8) and Isuru Udana (10 off 5) showed their mettle. Mohammed Shami in particular was clobbered, with his last over going for 24 to catapult RCB to a fighting total.
IPL 2020, RCB vs KXIP: Who was the Man of the Match yesterday?
Though he said Gayle - returning from the hospital and out of action for several months - deserved the award more, it was KXIP skipper KL Rahul who walked away with the Man of the Match award on the night.
Behind the stumps, KL Rahul was very effective, accounting for the RCB skipper and taking a good high catch to dismiss Shivam Dube. His real value to this team, however, is with the bat. Allowing Agarwal to do the bulk of the strokeplay, Rahul was calm and controlled inside the powerplay and neatly shifted gears in the middle overs.
His 61 off 49 balls may be criticised for leaving it for too late, but his solitary four and 5 sixes sure lit up the night, tilting the game towards KXIP with many overs remaining in the match.
Incidentally, it was he who was unstoppable in the previous encounter between these sides. And although a different set of bowlers tried, RCB were unable to dismiss KL Rahul, or beat KXIP, even once in two attempts. For carrying his bat, KL Rahul was the Man of the Match in yesterday's IPL game.
Published 16 Oct 2020, 00:02 IST