Synopsis: Gopal bowls the ball of IPL 12 to dismiss Kohli. Royals saunter to victory.
Ball of IPL 12
Somehow, Virat Kohli doesn’t look at his fluent best against the googly in the IPL. It would be preposterous to suggest a weakness. Maybe, it’s just one of those things that happen to a batsman at a particular tournament.
The googly that castled the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain at Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday could have breached any batsman’s defence though. It was poetry in motion. Shreyas Gopal’s first ball to Kohli, too, was a wrong’un. Kohli tried to play it inside-out to cover but managed an inside edge on to the pad. The Rajasthan Royals leggie bowled another googly, only that he held it back a little and gave the ball a little more air. The line was outside off, which invited the RCB skipper for a cover drive. Kohli was beaten in the air and then, the ball spun back sharply, went through the gate and hit the stumps. A Bangalore boy knocked out the Bangalore captain with a delivery that would have made India’s greatest leg-spinner — one Anil Kumble from Bangalore — proud.
Till then, Kagiso Rabada might have had the honour of bowling the best ball of this IPL, as described by Delhi Capitals advisor Sourav Ganguly. The yorker that Rabada unleashed to clean up Andre Russell in the Super Over against Kolkata Knight Riders three days ago touched perfection. But given the batting pedigree that Gopal was up against, his googly trumped Rabada’s yorker. No disrespect to the former India captain…
Gopal’s wonder ball, in fact, saved his captain, Ajinkya Rahane’s blushes. The latter’s reactive captaincy had handed his RCB counterpart an opportunity. Kohli opened the innings for RCB, along with Parthiv Patel, after being sent in. He was targeting the mid-wicket area, because Rahane had kept it open. The Royals skipper probably missed a trick there, because it was a pitch where the odd ball was stopping. When Dhawal Kulkarni bowled a length delivery outside off, Kohli shuffled across and hit it uppishly through the vacant mid-wicket region for a four. The ball stopped, but no one at mid-wicket allowed Kohli to go through with his shot. Steve Smith put his hands on his head. He moved to man the vacant territory next ball. Kulkarni bowled an identical line and yet again the ball stopped. But this time, Kohli played it along the ground to mid-on.
Rahane’s failure to pre-empt could have been costly. Gopal’s, googly, however, cancelled out the error. The 25-year-old snapped up AB de Villiers in his next over with another wrong’un. It skidded off the surface and de Villiers hit it straight back to the bowler. Gopal had taken out the RCB batting royalty last year as well. A repeat left him wide-eyed in disbelief.
But he wasn’t done yet. Another googly in his third over accounted for Shimron Hetmyer. Gopal returned with 3/12 from his four overs to set up Royals’ first win of this edition. “Obviously, I’m fortunate and lucky to have gotten those big wickets. Again, I’m saying it as a youngster getting such big names out doesn’t come every day. I was just fortunate, and the plans worked,” he played down his achievement after receiving the Man-of-the-Match award.
Royals saunter to victory
That RCB posted a fighting total was down to Parthiv Patel’s well-paced half-century. Then, Marcus Stoinis, on his return to the IPL, and Moeen Ali used the long handle to good effect at the death to take their team to 158/4 after 20 overs.
It wasn’t a par score, given the dew factor. But RCB had their chances. In the second over during Royals’ chase, Kohli dropped Rahane at first slip off Navdeep Saini. Rahane went on to have a 60-run opening partnership with Jos Buttler before he was trapped leg-before by Yuzvendra Chahal.
In the first ball of the 16th over, with the game still open, Umesh Yadav dropped Smith off Chahal at deep cover. Royals still required 38 runs off 30 deliveries then and Smith was batting on 23. Smith’s 31-ball 38 anchored Royals’ chase after Buttler’s romp.
As for Buttler, he tore into the opposition attack, displaying very little footwork but thriving on great hand-eye coordination and intelligence. The opener targeted the shorter boundaries. His hits were fierce, which the RCB bowlers and fielders would attest. The improvisation of the match came, when he hit a perfect ‘forehand’ over mid-on to a Stoinis bouncer.
After Buttler’s 43-ball 59, some sensible batting was needed for the hosts. Smith and Rahul Tripathi did that. Towards the end, things became a little tight, thanks to a Mohammed Siraj over, which accounted for Smith apart from yielding only four runs. But Tripathi kept his composure, and when one run was required off two balls, he pulled Yadav over the deep mid-wicket boundary to secure a seven-wicket win for his team.
RCB, seemingly hit by Murphy’s Law, slumped to their fourth straight defeat.