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Friday, October 22, 2021

Maxwell’s Big Show: RCB beat Punjab to seal play-off spot

Chahal gives another reminder and Maxwell plays a gem as RCB beat Punjab to seal play-off berth

Written by Nihal Koshie |
Updated: October 4, 2021 7:55:20 am
The one player whose dinner Kohli should pay for tonight is Australian maverick Glenn Maxwell, who played one of his better T20 innings on a slow wicket (IPL/Twitter)

Captain Virat Kohli kept his cool despite the moments where one would be forgiven for biting nails. His bowlers, led by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, delivered smartly to win a close game against Punjab Kings at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The six-run win sealed Royal Challengers Bangalore’s play-off spot while the Kings’ reputation for freezing when victory was within grasp was enhanced.

The one player whose dinner Kohli should pay for tonight is Australian maverick Glenn Maxwell, who played one of his better T20 innings on a slow wicket.

The strategy for the openers from both sides was to make the most of the new ball in the Powerplay before trying to bat efficiently as the bowlers slowed down the game with smart variations of pace.

KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal followed this plan to a tee, mixing aggression with caution during the chase of 165, the highest target at Sharjah this season.

Just when they looked on course for a 100-run partnership, Rahul was caught at short third-man when trying to hit left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed down the track in the 11th over.
The dismissal was the opening RCB and Kohli were looking for, and despite Agarwal keeping his team in the chase, the momentum had shifted.

Chahal reminder

RCB still needed someone to strike multiple blows and Chahal provided the breakthroughs. He dismissed Nicholas Pooran, the out of form No.3, who tried to hit himself out of trouble.
In the 16th over, with the game still evenly poised, Agarwal tried force the pace with a sweep but got an edge which landed in Mohammed Siraj’s hands at short-third man.

Sarfaraz Khan, the former Under-19 World Cup star, was foxed. The leg-break from Chahal was tossed up and turned, beat Khan’s bat and knocked over his off-stump.
Chahal’s 3 for 29, including two wickets in four balls, wrested the momentum back to the Bangalore-franchise.

Aiden Markram and Shahrukh Khan used the long handle but Siraj and Harshal Patel bowled two tight overs at the end to ensure RCB had sealed a play-off spot.

Like the Punjab openers, RCB’s Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal got their side to a good start with 56 for no loss in the first six. Punjab Kings started with the off-break of Markram and the batsmen found it difficult to time the ball. Straightaway it was clear that batsmen would have to bide their time but the early exchanges were a mixed bag for both teams.

Punjab spinners Ravinder Bishnoi and Harpreet Brar slowed down the scoring rate before the crafty Australian medium pacer Moises Henriques used clever changes of pace to further stifle batsmen and pierced out three wickets, including those of Kohli and Padikkal.

Dan Christian, sent out at No.3 to breathe life into the innings, tried to do just that by slashing the first ball he faced and was caught at point. RCB were in a spot of bother and needed someone to break the shackles.

Maxwell gem

Their most expensive overseas player, Maxwell, produced a power-hitting display worthy of his moniker – ‘The Big Show’ – and took the pitch out of the equation. Maxwell’s has an on-side hitting arch. When the spinners were a touch short, he targeted the mid-wicket region. Maxwell was at his best when RCB were under the pump. He picked the googly early and was prepared to wait for the ball. He also brought out the switch hit when Bishnoi tried to cramp him for room on the on-side. He didn’t shy away from targeting the bowler straight down the ground. His 57 off 33 along with AB de Villiers, who played second fiddle with 23 off 18, gave RCB a match-winning total.

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