RCB moves up to fifth spot after Kohli-facilitated win

Virat Kohli took his aggregate to 752 runs in 12 innings with another masterful knock against Kolkata Knight Riders to steer Royal Challengers Bangalore past its target of 184, and thereby lift the team to fifth spot in the IPL points table.

Virat Kohli scored 75 off 51 balls despite a split webbing suffered while fielding.   -  PTI

Eden Gardens switched its loyalty to the brilliance of Virat Kohli as the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain anchored the visiting team to an emphatic nine-wicket win against host Kolkata Knight Riders here on Monday. Chasing a target of 184 set by the host, Royal Challengers overhauled the target with eight balls to spare and moved into the fifth position of the league standings, netting 12 points from as many matches.

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The chants of 'Virat…Virat' engulfed the giant stadium, which was almost packed to the capacity, anticipating a close contest between two of the most accomplished opponents in the tournament. The loyalty of the support finally swung towards one of the most proficient batsmen in the world who arrived here with a stupendous aggregate of 677 runs in 11 innings.

Batting with an injury he suffered on the left hand while making an acrobatic save during Knight Riders' batting innings, Kohli impressed with his unflinching spirit to score an unbeaten 75 (51b, 5x4, 3x6) to hoist his aggregate to 752 in 12 innings. This helped him surpass the previous highest aggregate in a season set by his current teammate Chris Gayle and Michael Hussey, who owned the record so far with 733 runs scored in 2012 and 2013 seasons respectively.

Picking up from where they had left of in the > 144-run win over Gujarat Lions in their home venue in Bengaluru barely two days ago, Kohli inspired another great batting display joining South African batsman A.B. de Villiers. The two figured in an unbeaten 115-runs (in 68 balls) partnership that made the audacious run chase on a challenging Eden wicket look all too easy in the end. Chris Gayle shrugged off his recent poor form to give an explosive start, where he hit four sixes and four boundaries to reach his 49 (31 balls).

Another century stand

After Gayle got out in the eighth over, Kohli and De Villiers took over the reins, unleashing their usual belligerence to puny the home attack and reach their fifth 100-run stand in the tournament. De Villiers provided the perfect accompaniment with an unbeaten 59 (31b, 5x4, 3x6) seeing their partnership reach another successful milestone.

For Kohli, the only moment of slackness happened in the 11th over bowled by Bangladesh left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, when Gambhir spilled a catch fielding at point after the Royal Challengers captain unleashed a hard square cut. From there it was Royal Challengers all the way.

Earlier, Knight Riders sailed on the half centuries by Gambhir and Manish Pandey to set a strong 183 for five in the allotted 20 overs. Kohli opted to field on winning the toss and put the challenge on Gambhir, who had always preferred to chase targets. Gambhir and Pandey figured in a 76-run partnership for the second wicket after opener Robin Uthappa departed in a hurry.

Pandey provided the impetus to stroke-making and kept the home fans mostly on the feet, hitting five boundaries and two sixes and Gambhir gave an able company, matching his younger partner stroke for stroke. The Knight Riders batting suffered regular jolts after the departure of Gambhir and Pandey before West Indian Andre Russell (39 not out) provided the rearguard rescue act in company of Shakib Al Hasan (18 not out). The two paired in an unbeaten 58-run partnership for the sixth wicket to see the Knight Riders score crossing 180. But was not enough.

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