Sharjah : A record century partnership between captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers on Monday catapulted Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to be the joint number No.1 team on the IPL points table for the first time in 13th edition after they hammered Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 82 runs.Although RCB have 10 points, the same as Mumbai Indians (+1.327) and Delhi Capitals (+1.038), Kohli’s team is now third on net run rate (-0.116).Now, all eight teams have played seven matches each — the halfway stage of the league phase of the tournament.RCB, on winning the toss, posted 194 for two wickets in 20 overs, thanks to a scintillating unbeaten 73 off 33 balls from de Villiers, Aaron Finch’s 47 off 37 balls, and Kohli 33 not out off 28 balls. They then restricted KKR for 112 for nine wickets in 20 overs to complete a one-sided win at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.Only three of KKR batsmen entered double figures, with the highest scorer being Shubman Gill with 34 (25 balls, 3x4s, 1×6), before he was run out. Andre Russell and Rahul Tripathi were the others who reached double-digit scores.Pacer Chris Morris of South Africa and off-spinner Washington Sundar bagged two wickets each while the four other bowlers also captured one wicket each.This was RCB’s fifth win from seven games while KKR’s third loss in seven games. With this defeat, KKR slipped to the fourth place with eight points from seven matches. Both RCB and KKR have equal chances of qualifying for the playoffs.Chasing the target, KKR kept on losing wickets at regular intervals even as opener Gill tried to hold the fort with his 34. Half of the Dinesh Karthik-led team was back in the hut with just 64 runs on board.Andre Russell and Rahul Tripathi chipped in with 16 runs each down the order.
However, it wasn’t enough to help their side stage a comeback in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.While Isuru Udana cut short Russell’s stay, Mohammed Siraj ended KKR’s last hope after dismissing Tripathi in the 17th over. On the other hand, Chris Morris sent back Pat Cummins (1) and Kamlesh Nagarkoti (4) in quick succession to leave KKR reeling at 108/9 in 19 overs.Varun Chakravarthy and Prasidh Krishna were unbeaten on seven and two runs respectively as their side could only manage 112/9 wickets in the 20 overs.For RCB, Morris and Washington Sundar picked two wickets each while Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal and Isuru Udana settled with one each.Earlier, de Villiers’s blitzkrieg (5x4s, 6x6s) along with some valuable top-order contributions saw RCB post 194/2 wickets in the allotted 20 overs.Opting to bat, Devdutt Padikkal (32) and Aaron Finch (47) handed RCB a flying start by adding 47 runs in the initial six overs.Andre Russell got the first breakthrough when he packed back Padikkal in the eighth over, ending the 67-run stand.Finch and Kohli were then involved in a brief 27-run partnership before Prasidh Krishna dismissed the former in the 13th over, at a time when RCB were six runs away from the three-digit mark.After losing the openers, de Villiers filled the void as he shared an unbeaten 100-run partnership with skipper Kohli (33 not out). de Villiers and Kohli became the first pair in the IPL to share 10 century partnerships.South African de Villiers looked in murderous mood, clobbering most of the KKR bowlers all-round the park. The de Villiers-Kohli pair comfortably steered their side to a challenging total. de Villiers’s brutal knock was decorated with five boundaries and six massive hits into the stands.
Brief scores: RCB: 194/2 wkts in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 73 not out, Aaron Finch 47, Virat Kohli 33 not out, Devdutt Padikkal 32) beat KKR: 112/9 wkts in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 34, Chris Morris 2/17, Washington Sundar 2/20) by 82 runs