Mandeep Singh smashed an unbeaten 45 in merely 18 balls to take Royal Challengers Bangalore to a thrilling seven wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in a rain-affected game at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday. Following heavy rain, the game was reduced to 10 overs a side. Bangalore won the toss, and decided to bowl first, following which Kolkata put up an impressive 111 for 4 on the board, thanks in main to Andre Russell, who smashed 45 from 17 balls. For a decent part of the chase it seemed liked he had done enough, but Mandeep outdid him in the end.
In an ironic twist to the game, while it was Russell’s knock that gave Kolkata an emphatic total to defend, it were two consecutive sixes Mandeep hit off Russell that took Bangalore past the finish line. Mandeep first smashed a full ball into the backward point boundary, and then pulled a short one over the backward square leg boundary, as Bangalore erupted in joy. In the penultimate over bowled by Umesh Yadav as well, Mandeep delivered two crucial strikes. He scooped one over fine leg for a four, and edged a boundary to third man to keep Bangalore in the hunt.
Bangalore were aided by the fact that they knew about the target they needed to achieve in 10 overs, and worked towards the same with some smart tactics. Chris Gayle began by smashing Umesh for a six to long off, and then dispatched Brag Hogg for two sixes in an over, but the veteran left-arm spinner had his revenge, having him caught in the same over. AB de Villiers had a rare failure as he was bowled by Piyush Chawla for 2. Skipper Virat Kohli kept getting the big hits, but he perished to Russell for 34. His dismissal gave Kolkata the edge, but Mandeep took Bangalore home.
Mandeep’s heroics undid an equally spectacular batting effort from Russell when Kolkata batted. Promoted to number three after Gautam Gambhir fell early, Russell came in and thrashed the Bangalore bowlers all over. He began by cutting Yuzvendra Chahal for four past point, and then hit Varun Aaron for two sixes and a four in an over. He continued being severe on Chahal even as Robin Uthappa struggled to 23 from 21. In spite of a good last over from Mitchell Starc, Kolkata seemed to have enough on the board. Mandeep though felt otherwise.
--By A Cricket Correspondent