Of all the bowlers wearing the scarlet and gold of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, one would not have put their money on Mitchell Starc giving the game away. Readying to bowl the 17th over, the 24-year-old Starc had brilliant figures of two overs for 12 until then. The Rajasthan Royals still needed 65 runs off 24 balls, that is 16.25 runs per over.
What followed next, though, stunned the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Starc conceded four runs of his first three balls, the third being a wide. The next two balls, fired wide of James Faulkner’s off-stump were carved away for boundaries to the left and right of third-man respectively. A rattled Starc sent down another wide and off the fifth ball, came the shot that really broke the shackles.
A length ball, hurled at a 143 kmph was angled into the right-handed Faulkner. The Tasmanian stood absolutely still and then fluidly dumped the ball over the midwicket fence for a huge six. The last ball gave two, and suddenly the equation was down to 44 from 18 balls. It still wasn’t over for Bangalore, although they wouldn’t have been as confident at this point as when they took the field with a healthy target of 191 on the board. It would soon end, however, by the time the next over was bowled.
Ashok Dinda was creamed for 23 runs, with Steven Smith taking the pacer’s rather average offerings apart and the in following Varun Aaron over, Faulkner finished off the game with another telling maximum.The Royals got home with seven balls to spare and five wickets in hand.
However, before the Australian duo took up the mantle of polishing off RCB in emphatic fashion, it looked as if the side from Bangalore would finally get that elusive first home win of the season. Having score 190 off their 20 overs, mainly thanks to a blitzkrieg 38-ball 83 from Yuvraj Singh, RCB had tied down the Royals with some smart bowling. Capping off a brilliant day on a personal level, Yuvraj snared four wickets.
But the night though belonged to Smith and Faulkner. When Smith came in at the fall of Sanju Samson’s wicket, the situation was dire. At this point, 109 runs were required off 54 balls. Smith took a couple of sighters and then deposited Yuvraj over long-off for a six. At the other end, opener Karun Nair completed his second fifty of the season, finally being dismissed for an aggressive 56 off 39 balls.
With Faulkner for company and 83 required off 36, Smith counter-attacked with exhilarating effect. Aaron’s 15th over was taken for 14 runs with two boundaries and a sweetly struck six over midwicket. The impressive Yuzvendra Chahal sent down a tight 16th, conceding only four runs. Faulkner took Starc apart and then once again it was the Smith show.
Dinda began the 17th with a gentle half-volley which was duly slammed past his head for six. The Bengal pacer’s next offering was again a length ball. Smith’s supple wrists helped smash that into the midwicket fence. A couple of singles later, Dinda overstepped. As if that was not enough, the ball was blasted into the sightscreen. Captain Virat Kohli turned to his most successful bowler of the tournament, Varun Aaron, who served up more length balls, failing to bowl a single yorker.
Faulkner plundered him for 21 balls off just five balls, taking Rajasthan Royals to an unlikely but comfortable victory.