When Gautam Gambhir’s Kolkata Knight Riders take on Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore at Eden Gardens today, sparks are expected to fly as the two skippers are fierce competitors on the field.
KKR are well placed in the season with 4 wins from 6 games, but Kohli’s RCB, who have won only twice in as many games, have some catching up to do if they are to stay in contention going forward.
Over the years, the two teams have been part of some exciting contests that have thrown up many memorable moments. Here’s a journey through some of those iconic moments.
#1 McCullum sets IPL ablaze, RCB vs KKR at Chinnaswamy Stadium, 2008
When tracing the history of these two teams, one cannot but start by going all the way back to the very first day of this 10-season old T20 tournament. The Indian Premier League kicked off in 2008 with the inaugural match between Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. T20 itself was then a relatively new form of cricket and people had not much clue on what to expect from this tournament.
However, the ones who watched the first game left thoroughly entertained. The Kolkata franchise was led by Sourav Ganguly and the Bangalore side by Rahul Dravid.
Put in to bat first, Brendon McCullum played a whirlwind knock of 158*(73) and gave the tournament a grand opening as KKR racked up a mammoth total of 222 in the first innings of the inaugural match. In reply, the Bangalore side were bowled out for a paltry 82. Though the match ended a one-sided affair, McCullum provided the perfect advertisement of the entertainment that the tournament would offer. The Kolkata Knight Riders won the match by a margin of 140 runs.
#2 Dravid plays a blinder, RCB vs KKR at Chinnaswamy Stadium, 2010
A batsman in the classical mould, Dravid has often taken the attacking route in limited overs cricket. Royal Challengers Bangalore's encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2010 edition of the IPL was one such instance.
Having lost four out of their five matches before this encounter, Bangalore were in need of a good win and put the latter to bat first after winning the toss. KKR responded with a score of 160 courtesy quick knocks by Gayle and McCullum. In reply, RCB lost opener Jacques Kallis early in the innings, bringing Dravid to the crease.
The legendary batsman then proceeded to score a superb half century at a strike rate of 150. His knock of 52 came off 35 balls and included five 4s and two 6s. The two sixes came off consecutive deliveries from Agarkar, the second of which took Dravid to his half century. Robin Uthappa too notched up a fifty to take RCB to victory with 7 wickets to spare.
#3 Gayle goes berserk at Eden, KKR vs RCB at Eden Gardens, 2011
Royal Challengers Bangalore scripted one of their most comprehensive victories against the Kolkata Knight Riders when the sides met at the Eden Gardens in the 2011 edition of the tournament. The Knight Riders, batting first, put up a competitive target of 176 for the visitors as Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Kallis all contributed with knocks of 40-odd.
However, as Gayle proved sometime later, the score was just not enough. The 'Universe Boss' was on a rampage that day as he put away everything thrown at him with disdain. The burly West Indian made a mockery of the chase, scoring a 55-ball 102*. Virat Kohli remained not out on 30 as RCB completed a comfortable 9-wicket victory.
A memorable anecdote from the match – At the start of the 18th over, RCB required a mere 6 runs from 8 balls for victory and Gayle was unbeaten on 98*. The bowler, Iqbal Abdullah, delivered a juicy half tracker to Kohli, who by instinct, smashed it for a four to the long-on fence, before realising Gayle was short of his century.
Thereafter, Kohli made it a point to block every ball bowled at him. However, to his shock, Abdullah delivered a wide in the same over. With just 1 more required, Gayle eventually got to the landmark with the winning boundary off the first delivery of the next over.
Chris Gayle: “When he got that boundary, it was a bit scary, I told him ‘listen you have to block every ball.’”
Virat Kohli: “Well, I wanted to give Chris the strike, you don't often get a 100 in Twenty20, so I decided to block everything [after that pulled boundary]. I was disappointed to see Iqbal bowl the wide, but it could have slipped out of his hand as well."
#4 Balaji delivers one of the finest IPL spells, RCB vs KKR at Chinnaswamy Stadium, 2012
In the Bangalore leg of the encounter between these two teams in 2012, former India pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji turned in one of the finest bowling spells in IPL history, bowling for KKR against the likes of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers. The Knight Riders batted first and posted a score of 165. Gambhir top-scored with 64 (39) and Manvinder Bisla gave him ample support, scoring 46 (29) even as the rest of the batting collapsed like a house of cards
Jacques Kallis struck twice at the start to send back the dangerous Chris Gayle and Pujara. The two other key batsmen in the RCB line-up, Kohli 6 (14) and de Villiers 10 (10), were snapped up cheaply by Balaji, who proceeded to then add two more wickets to his tally.
His 4 wickets put RCB out of the game and came at the cost of a mere 18 runs. Defending just 165, KKR won by a comfortable 42-run margin and Balaji was named the Player of the Match.
#5 A thriller in Sharjah, RCB vs KKR at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, 2014
Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore locked horns at Sharjah in the 2014 edition of the tournament, which was moved to the UAE owing to the general elections in India. The match turned out to be a last-ball thriller.
But the match would be more remembered down the years for Chris Lynn's blinder of a catch at the boundary line. Batting first, KKR lost their skipper, Gautam Gambhir, for a first-ball duck, and Manish Pandey shortly after, to be reduced to 10/2 in the 2nd over.
But Lynn added 80 runs with Kallis to take them to a moderate score of 150. However, his moment of the day was yet to come. RCB had a promising start to their innings with the opening pair of Yogesh Takawale and Parthiv Patel adding 67 in less than 8 overs.
However the duo were dismissed in the space of two deliveries on the same score. Kohli and Yuvraj steadied the ship with a couple of thirties but the former fell to Narine off the penultimate ball of his spell and the latter followed soon after.
Yet, the required rate was always in control. With Kohli back in the pavilion, RCB depended on De Villiers to take them across the line. The equation had come down to 6 required off the last three deliveries and ABD was at the crease, facing Vinay Kumar.
Hoping to finish the match off with a six, AB whacked a short delivery over deep midwicket. Lynn, who was positioned there, slipped while lining up the catch, but recovered enough to arch his body back and take the catch sitting down, inches from the ground.
One of the finest catches in the tournament's long history, Lynn's acrobatics won KKR the game from the jaws of defeat, when Albie Morkel could pick up only a single from the last ball, needing four for victory.