Bengaluru: Royal Challengers Bangalore’s win over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Friday is likely to be remembered more for that one moment of bowling magic than one over of impact, or even the result.
And that was 17-year-old Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb ur Rehman conjuring up something beyond his wildest dreams - foxing none other than Virat Kohli with a googly that spun in sharply, beat his defence and bowled him at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Mujeeb, the latest among the quality spinners Afghanistan cricket is churning out, was bought by KXIP for Rs 4 crore. Last week, 11 days after celebrating his 17th birthday, he became the youngest to play in IPL, taking 2/28 in the win over Delhi Daredevils in Mohali.
His confidence shone through after KXIP skipper R Ashwin, defending just 155, threw the ball to the teenager in the third over, in a bid to deny RCB batsmen pace to play shots.
AB de Villiers took charge though, smashing his 23rd IPL fifty (57 - 40b, 2x4, 4x6) before RCB won, reaching 159/6 in 19.3 overs. AB de Villiers hit two big sixes off Mujeeb before holing out to deep point in the 19th over, but by then the team was almost home.
Virat Kohli (21) had eased into his innings and was left shell-shocked, and the packed M Chinnaswamy Stadium was left silently admiring the audacity of Mujeeb.
Although Brendon McCullum fell first ball to left-arm spinner Axar Patel before Kohli’s dismissal, RCB looked set for a romp. However, R Ashwin dismissed opener Quinton de Kock (45) with an off-break and new batsman Sarfaraz Khan next ball, caught at slip off a leg-break, to ensure RCB will not have it easy at all.
Earlier, Umesh Yadav had rattled KXIP by striking three blows in the fourth over, reining in the innings after KL Rahul had provided a racy start following Virat Kohli’s decision to chase after winning the toss, as per the trend in IPL 2018.
KXIP had raced to 32 for no loss in three overs when Umesh struck. He had Mayank Agarwal (15) caught behind, nicking a drive and then trapped Aaron Finch for a first ball duck, the Australian batsman finding no cheer in his first game after his wedding. Yuvraj Singh’s (4) place could be in doubt after a second failure, Umesh Yadav bowling him from around the wicket.
KL Rahul, who hit a 14-ball fifty in the win over Delhi Daredevils, had to tone down his aggression after that as he made 47 off 30 balls (2x4, 4x6). He raised 58 runs for the fourth wicket with Karun Nair (27 - 26 b, 3x4) but the pressure was on and the two could not really score freely.