KKR steamrolls RCB as Narine smashes fastest 50

The Gambhir-led visiting side made small work of Challengers' target of 159, wrapping the game up in the first ball of the 16th over.

Sunil Narine smashed the fastest 50 of this year's IPL as he notched up his half-century in 15 balls.   -  Sportzpics

Sometime early last month, Chris Lynn’s post on social media left his fans emotional. After suffering another career-threatening shoulder injury, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Queenslander batsman had taken to Twitter to express his disappointment.

“Dear cricket gods, did I do something wrong?” read the post. It was only Knights’ second match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and despite a match-winning knock in the opener, the injury made his future look bleak. That was the time, Lynn didn’t know where lies the future. Even KKR team management looked hapless as the questions grew louder—‘will Lynn return?’

Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Well, the Queenslander did return to the IPL bandwagon and with a bang. On Sunday, coming back from a long injury lay-off, he and Sunil Narine guided Kolkata Knight Riders to a convincing six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, and puts it on the verge of qualifying for the Indian Premier League play-offs.

Sunil Narine makes history

With both openers going on a rampage, the struggling RCB bowlers looked clueless. While Narine played a blitzkrieg knock of 54 in 17 deliveries, Lynn initially held ground — providing solid cushion to his Caribbean partner. And once Narine departed, the Queenslander made it a point to strike a half-century and ensure that there were no slip-ups.

With a gritty knock of 50 off 21 balls, Lynn not only put KKR on the winning course, but also bolstered his side’s batting attack ahead of the play-offs.

Player of the match: Sunil Narine

But then, in a jam-packed Chinnaswamy Stadium, Narine was the ideal show-stealer. Chasing a tricky 159, the Caribbean cricketer pulled up the fastest half-century of the tournament, scoring fifty in just 15 balls. And that helped the Knights pick up 105 runs in the first wicket partnership, that too in six overs!

With the team on winning course, all KKR required was a steady middle-order partnership. Captain Gautam Gambhir (14) and Colin de Grandhomme (31) stitched a 45-run pair in the middle to make it a night to remember.

After two consecutive defeats, there were doubts on whether the Knight Riders would be able to sail through to the play-offs. However, Gambhir’s men packed a punch when it mattered the most. That too at Virat Kohli’s den.

While the Knights basked in the glory, RCB’s nightmarish form continued as it suffered its tenth straight defeat — raising serious question marks about the team composition. Being put to bat, a star-studded RCB batting line-up crumbled once again as it lost its top three batsmen — Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers — within 34 runs. Things could have gone horribly wrong had Travis Head and Mandeep Singh not put up a 71-run partnership. If Mandeep contributed with a 52-run knock, Head struck a 47-ball 75 to guide his team reach 158, losing seven wickets.

That, however, was not enough for a turnaround.

With Narine tearing apart a listless RCB bowling attack, it would have required a miracle for the host to end its home campaign on a winning note. Things, however, didn’t go that way for Kohli’s men.

Earlier in the day, when rain stopped play for more than half an hour, Gambhir was seen discussing a thing or two with Narine and Lynn. Perhaps, the instructions were loud and clear — restrict RCB within limits and go for the kill. As the television cameras panned towards Narine, the Caribbean all-rounder looked all serious and under pressure.

Well, that was a lull before the storm. Only if Kohli had known!

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