Dinesh Karthik played a captain's knock as Kolkata beat Virat Kohli's Bangalore by four wickets in their first match of the 2018 IPL at Eden Gardens on Sunday.
The win, however, was set up by Man-of-the-Match Sunil Narine, who smashed a 19-ball 50 as an opener. The 55-run fourth-wicket stand between Karthik and Nitish Rana (34 off 25 balls) also played its part in the win.
Karthik, who hit a last-ball six to help India win the Nidahas T20 tri-series last month in Sri Lanka, on Sunday played a totally different innings and instead of risky shots relied on safe strokes. He was unbeaten on 35 off 29 balls when Vinay Kumar struck a four to help the team chase down 177 with seven balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, after being put into bat by Karthik, Bangalore lost Quinton de Kock to Piyush Chawla early for 4. Next batsman and Bangalore captain Kohli didn't look in his element at all, to the great surprise of everyone. However, seasoned New Zealander Brendon McCullum ensured his team didn't get stuck and kept picking up boundaries at regular intervals. Soon Bangalore had moved on from the early blow of de Kock.
Just when McCullum started looking good for a big score, Narine cleaned him up for 43 off 27 balls. South Africa great AB de Villiers joined Kohli at the crease and all hell broke loose. De Villiers was up and running straight away and picked up back-to-back sixes off Kuldeep Yadav in the 10th over to ease some nerves.
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson also came in for some assault as de Villiers nonchalantly took a 6 and a 4 in the 12th over bowled by him. When Karthik brought on part-time spinner Rana in the 15th over against de Villiers, many thought it was a suicidal move. And without any delay, de Villiers dispatched him for a six off the first ball. Of course, he was going to go for another big hit, and he did. Only this time it didn't come off the way he had expected and Johnson pouched a skier at deep mid-wicket. He made 44 off 23 balls.
Surreal elements entered the game off the next ball though, when Rana cleaned up Kohli (31 off 33 balls) with a yorkish delivery. Bangalore fans were stunned in the stands. That the visitors were able to reach 176/7 was largely because of Mandeep Singh's brave 37 off 18 balls towards the end. Despite his effort, Bangalore appeared to be 15 runs short and that eventually cost them dear.