Kolkata Knight Riders went down to Royal Challengers Bangalore by 82 runs in Match 28 of the Dream XI IPL 2020. Ab de Villiers returned to form in the most menacing way, slamming a 33-ball 73, to turn the game in RCB’s favour, whereas their bowlers sealed the deal with some strong and economical performances.

Sharjah has been known to throw up results in support of teams batting first. Rajasthan Royals are the only team to have won a match chasing a big target on this ground. To be precise, five out of the six matches played here went in favour of teams batting first.

Winning the toss and batting first, RCB had more than a decent start with Devdutt Padikkal (32 off 23) and Aaron Finch (47 off 37) but it was the late charge from De Villiers, with due support from skipper Virat Kohli (33 off 28), that propelled them to a strong 194/2. They minted 83 runs off the last 5 overs and pushed KKR on the back foot.

In response, KKR were restricted to 112/9. Chris Morris (2/17), Navdeep Saini (1/17) and Washington Sundar (2/20) didn’t let any of the KKR batsmen off the hook. Yuzvendra Chahal, too, chipped in with one of his most economical spells, giving away just 12 runs in 4 overs and picking up a wicket. Barring Shubman Gill’s 34 off 25 and Andre Russell’s few good shots on his way to a 10-ball 16, the KKR batting card has nothing much to highlight.

The Knights missed the service of Sunil Narine, and apart from Varun Chakravarthy, there was hardly anyone who could check runs or successfully mount enough pressure on the RCB batters to crack them. The wicket at Sharjah seemed to have slowed down a bit and lack of spin options certainly hit the Knights quite hard.

“At various points of time we had opportunities to create a bit of inroads but they got away with a few shots. We bowled some good areas but they played some great shots towards the end. AB de Villiers showed why he is a very good player. To come out there and score 80 odd runs in 5 overs is not an easy task. He made it look a lot easier than what it was,” said Dinesh Karthik.

KKR have been making changes to their winning combination quite often and even shuffling the batting order regularly. On Monday, KKR chose to send in the debutant Tom Banton, ahead of the in-form Rahul Tripathi, to open the chase with Gill. Defending his move to open the batting with Banton, Karthik said, “Once you play Tom Banton, I think you got to make sure he opens, because that’s where he is best at. We know that Rahul Tripathi is versatile and can adapt to any situation. Banton has opened in international cricket and done well. So, that’s the reason we stuck with him as an opener.”

Indeed, Monday’s performance was not anywhere close to what the Knights are capable of pulling off. But having said that, we all know bad tidings don’t last for men with grit and determination. We next face Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi on October 16 in the return leg, and even though we had lost our first match against them, we can certainly expect our Knights to make a stronger comeback and bring back the smiles on our faces.