In the Eliminatot match of Indian T20 League 2021, Kolkata crossed swords with Bangalore. Eoin Morgan’s team, who finished fourth in the points table, had a completely different journey to the playoffs, as compared to the third-placed Bangalore.
Virat Kohli’s men performed extremely well in the first phase of the tournament, which was held earlier in the year, in India. They had one foot in playoffs even before the start of the second phase, and while they took some time to get acclimatized to the conditions here in UAE, they eventually got off the mark.
Kolkata, on the other hand, had a horrendous first phase. Many would have expected them to be one of the first teams to get knocked out off the playoffs race, but they had a fabulous turnaround in UAE, and if we solely consider the second phase of the tournament, they have been the team to bet.
Hence, this match was always likely to be an edge of the seat affair, and two teams provided a great game of cricket here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Batting first, Bangalore scored 138 runs, which is a low total, but not too bad on the bowling-friendly pitch of Sharjah. In the run chase, Kolkata had a few moments when they might have skipped a heartbeat, but they eventually got the victory in the last over of the match. Morgan’s boys will now take on Rishabh Pant’s Team Delhi in Qualifier 2, while Bangalore’s journey in this year’s Indian T20 League is over, as is Virat Kohli’s journey as Bangalore’s skipper.
Solid start for Bangalore
The key to success here at Sharjah, where scoring runs is a very difficult task, is getting off to a good start. That, Bangalore did, thanks to the opening partnership of Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal. They played with attacking intent from the beginning, as last match’s hero Shivam Mavi was taken to the cleaners. At the end of 5 overs, Bangalore found themselves in a pretty comfortably situation, with 49 runs on the scoreboard and all 10 wickets in hand.
Padikkal falls, and so does run rate
In the very first ball of the 6th over, Kolkata got their desired breakthrough. New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson dislodged the stumps of Devdutt Padikkal. Bangalore’s saviour in their last match against Delhi, K Srikar Bharat had a really tough time in this match.
In the three overs after the end of the powerplay, Bangalore could score only 13 runs. The run rate took a giant dip, and to get it up again, the batters needed to take risks and play big shots. Bharat tried to do so in the 10th over, only to lose his wicket off Sunil Narine’s bowling. From 49/0, Bangalore found themselves at 70/2 at the end of 10 overs.
Narine magic cripples Bangalore
Though two promising cricketers were sent back to the pavilion, Bangalore still had their big three of Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers to rely on. However, neither of them could make a mark, as Sunil Narine dismissed all three of them.
The West Indian clean bowled the Indian captain in the 12th over, and in his next over, he provided the exact same treatment to AB de Villiers. In what was his fourth over, he picked up his fourth wicket in the form of Glenn Maxwell. Thanks to his spell, Kolkata managed to put Bangalore under all sorts of pressure, as they could score 113 at the end of 17 overs.
The next two overs went Kolkata’s way as well, as Daniel Christian and Shahbaz Ahmed amassed 13 runs in those overs. In the last over, however, Bangalore tried to pull things back. A four from Harshal Patel, alongside a wide and a no-ball from Shivam Mavi, helped Bangalore put up a score of close to the 140-run mark.
Kolkata emulates Bangalore’s start
Though the target was not big and some opening pairs would have preferred a cautious and steady approach, Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer played attacking shots earlier on, just like Padikkal and Kohli did.
In the fourth over of the match, Gill hit three consecutive fours off the bowling of George Garton. At the end of four overs, Kolkata found themselves at 34/0, needing only 105 runs from 16 overs.
Quick wickets pull Bangalore back in the game
In his very first over, the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, Harshal Patel got the big wicket of Shubman Gill. Bangalore needed another wicket to completely get back in the game, and Yuzvendra Chahal obliged by dismissing Rahul Tripathi in the next over.
Only 8 runs came off the next two overs, and while Nitish Rana hit a six and a four in the 10th over, all of his good work was undone by Harshal Patel in the next over, as he picked up yet another big wicket, this time of Venkatesh Iyer.
Batting or bowling, Narine is Kolkata’s king
Kolkata’s move to send Sunil Narine to bat ahead of skipper Eoin Morgan and the experienced Dinesh Karthik surprised many, but they were not left surprised for long, and in his first three deliveries, the all-rounder hit three sixes.
While Kolkata were struggling at 79/3 in the previous over, Narine’s fireworks relieved the team from the pressure Patel and Chahal had created and got the men in purple past the 100-run mark in the 12th over.
A few late twists, but Shakib gets Kolkata over the line
We have seen quite a few matches with late twists in this season, and this clash was walking down the same road. Things began to change when Bangalore got Rana out in the 15th over and were very economical in the next two overs.
But a double blow by Mohammed Siraj in the 18th over, in the form of wickets of Dinesh Karthik and Sunil Narine, brought Bangalore back in the hunt. With Eoin Morgan and Shakib Al Hasan at the crease, Kolkata needed 12 runs off the last two overs.
A fantastic 19th over by George Garton saw Kolkata scoring only 5 runs, as the match went all the way down to the last over. But Shakib scooped the first ball of the 20th over by Daniel Christian over the short fine leg to give Kolkata an important boundary. From there onwards, three singles in three balls got the job done for the men in purple.