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IPL 2014 – KKR vs RCB: RCB Lose After Having Game In The Bag

By on April 25, 2014

Kolkata Knight Riders 150 for 7 (Lynn 45, Kallis 43, Aaron 3-16) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 148 for 5 (Takawale 40) by two runs…

How quickly does a Twenty20 game change? Ask Royal Challengers Bangalore. For virtually the entire duration, the match was in their grasp: their bowlers had combined to limit Kolkata Knight Riders to 150 on a flat track in Sharjah, their openers had put them on course in the chase, and even though Yuvraj Singh flapped about towards the end, the asking-rate was never out of hand. Even at the start of the final over with two renowned finishers, AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel, in the middle, Royal Challengers were favourites.

IPL 2014 - KKR vs RCB: Chris LynnNine runs were needed, and Knight Riders’ two major threats, Sunil Narine and Morne Morkel, had bowled out. Vinay Kumar stepped up to the job and delivered an over filled with full deliveries that kept his old team down to six, sparking delirious celebrations from the Knight Riders camp.

When a bowler defends nine off the final over in a Twenty20, that too against some of the finest hitters in the world, you’d expect him to hog the headlines. However, it is Chris Lynn who everyone will be talking about after he took a preposterous, acrobatic catch to send back de Villiers and turn the game in the final over.

De Villiers was looking to clear the long boundary at midwicket – the pitch was at the edge of the square – and though he connected well, there wasn’t enough to clear the rope. He might still have survived, as Lynn had slipped and fallen before the ball got to him. That didn’t deter Lynn, who leapt up and plucked that powerful hit bending his back like a high-jumper, and flopped to the ground, somehow managing it all without touching the rope which was a yard behind.

Given the sheer athleticism involved, the stage of the game, and the player who was dismissed by it, it’s hard to see how Lynn’s catch will be topped this season. “I slipped and I thought if I stood up and dropped the catch, it would look very silly, so just stayed down,” was Lynn’s straight-faced explanation when asked about his game-changing grab.

After de Villiers’ exit Royal Challengers needed six off two, not entirely out of reach, especially for a hitter like Morkel. But the catch left Royal Challengers stunned, and even though the final delivery was a hittable full toss, Morkel couldn’t put it away, and Knight Riders’ jailbreak was complete.

The high drama at the end masked a diffident performance from Knight Riders for much of the game. The only other passage in the match when they looked in control was when Lynn was in the middle, swatting sixes off the returning Muttiah Muralitharan. Lynn, bought as an afterthought in the IPL auctions, showed some of the big-hitting that has earned him loyal fans in the Big Bash League.

Lynn put on 80 for the third wicket with Jacques Kallis, after Gautam Gambhir fell for his third successive duck and the in-form Manish Pandey faltered. Lynn’s dismissal in the 12th over drained the momentum from Knight Riders’ innings and they finished on what seemed an inadequate score. Varun Aaron showed he had control as well as pace, and legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal turned in his third impressive performance in a row to keep the Knight Riders in check.

Royal Challengers’ dominance increased after their openers, Parthiv Patel and Yogesh Takawale, provided a strong start, and Virat Kohli was at his usual best to guide the chase along. Narine was watchfully played out till Kohli was bamboozled off the penultimate ball of his spell to give Knight Riders a faint chance. Yuvraj couldn’t force the pace towards the end, reviving memories of his painful World Twenty20 final innings and giving Knight Riders more of a grip on the game, before Vinay and Lynn yanked it out of Royal Challengers’ hands.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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