Cricket

IPL 2024: Mitchell Starc Holds Nerve As KKR Break RCB Hearts With Dramatic One-Run Win

Royal Challengers leg-spinner Karn Sharma smashed three sixes off Mitchell Starc in the final over, but the Australian seamer redeemed himself with a smart return catch to swing it Kolkata Knight Riders' way, in match 36 of Indian Premier League 2024

AP/Bikas Das
Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Mohammed Siraj sits dejected as Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate their win in match 36 of Indian Premier League 2024 at Eden Gardens. Photo: AP/Bikas Das
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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 dramatic one-run win off the last ball in their IPL match at the Eden Gardens on Sunday, April 21, 2024. (As It Happened | Scorecard)

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, 3x6) 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; 4x4, 5x6) and Rajat Patidar (52; 23b, 3x4, 5x6) 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.

Kohli was seen in an animated discussion with the on-field umpire before leaving the field with his anger in full view.

In the next over, Varun Chakravarthy dismissed Faf du Plessis for a seven-ball seven.

Earlier, On a day when Narine (10, 15 balls) failed to get going, Salt, the world's No. 2 T20I batter, was on fire smashing three sixes and seven fours to give KKR an explosive start, which later was exploited to the hilt by Iyer who hit seven fours and one six.

Andre Russell (27 not out, 20b) and Ramandeep Singh (24 not out, 9b) gave the home side some late impetus.

However, the under-fire RCB bowling unit made a spirited effort to reduce KKR to 75/3 at the end of power play, as KKR lost four wickets in 26 balls in that crucial middle-phase.

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Venkatesh Iyer (16) and Rinku Singh (24) failed to convert their starts as RCB kept chipping away at the KKR batting order.

But Iyer held his nerves to produce his 20th IPL fifty, his first fifty this season, as KKR kept moving along.

He got out in the next ball after reaching 50 in 35 balls.

Russell was unusually quiet during his 27 from 20 balls (4x4). It was Ramandeep Singh's cameo of 24 from nine balls with two fours and two sixes that lifted them to their third successive 200-plus total at the Eden Gardens.

Siraj bowled wisely with his yorkers and wide yorkers for his 1/40, while Cameron Green was the best among RCB bowlers returning with 2/35.

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Yash Dayal also picked 2/56 but was given away one too many runs.

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