Narine plays vital role as Kolkata Knight Riders come through IPL eliminator
Sunil Narine played an inspirational role with the ball and then provided a boost with the bat as Kolkata Knight Riders beat Royal Challengers Bangalore with two balls remaining to move to within one match of their first Indian Premier League final since 2014.
First, Narine (4-21) was essential in ensuring Bangalore could only set a modest target of 138 runs as he took a match-high four wickets, and then his arrival at the crease provided KKR with direction at just the right time as they ultimately reached 139-6.
Delhi Capitals await in the next round as they prepare to tussle for the right to face Chennai Super Kings in the final, marking an incredible turnaround in KKR's fortunes after winning only two of their first seven matches prior to the season's suspension in May.
Bangalore had initially looked in good shape as Virat Kohli (39) and Devdutt Padikkal (21) helped them to 49-0 after five overs, before the latter went to Lockie Ferguson at the start of the sixth.
They did not lose another wicket until Narine's first over in the 10th as he tempted Srikar Bharat to pick out Venkatesh Iyer. The same man then accounted for captain Kohli, who misjudged a delivery when going for a slog sweep, AB de Villiers (11) and Glenn Maxwell (15) to put KKR in complete control.
Shubman Gill (29) started the chase well, but KKR hit something of a rut and were 79-3 through 11 overs when Narine came in to again turn the tide.
Three sixes from the first three legal deliveries he faced on his way to 26 set KKR on course, even if RCB forced an intriguing finish when Mohammed Siraj claimed Narine and then Dinesh Karthik (10) in the 18th over.
Seven from Eoin Morgan and Shakib Al Hasan off four balls in the final over got the job done.
Narine the double threat
This was a wonderful showing from Narine, further highlighting the surprising nature of his omission from the West Indies squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup. His four wickets were twice as many as anyone else, while RCB only took 21 runs from his deliveries. He then gave KKR the kick up the backside that they needed with the bat, initially getting 23 runs from just nine balls.
Christian taken for a ride
The main difference between these sides on the day, and Kohli accepted as much afterwards, was the bowling. Dan Christian may have only bowled 1.4 overs, but that was an exceptionally expensive cameo, costing 29 runs, the joint-most of the RCB bowlers.