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Monday, October 25, 2021

Kohli capitalises on Royal mess as Rajasthan collapse from strong position

Maxwell’s fifty seals win for RCB after Royals’ middle-order implosion. Chahal impresses again. RCB strengthen Playoffs bid.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: September 30, 2021 8:05:50 am
Maxwell scored an impressive 50 as RCB beat RR by 7 wickets (IPL)

Once Rajasthan Royals had failed to put up a competitive total, it was Royal Challengers Bangalore’s game to lose. And after a 48-run opening partnership in five overs between Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal, they were never going to fluff their lines. Unlike Royals, RCB embraced common sense batting on their way to a seven-wicket win with 17 balls to spare, chasing 150. Kohli’s team is now on 14 points, on the cusp of the Playoffs.

The RCB captain looked to be in the mood until a brilliant Riyan Parag throw from backward point ran him out at the bowler’s end. Padikkal capitalised on a dropped catch by Sanju Samson off Chetan Sakariya when he was on six. But RCB would be most happy with Glenn Maxwell’s upturn in form at the business end of the tournament. After a Man-of-the-Match performance against Mumbai Indians, the Australian scored another unbeaten half-century, off 30 balls.

Maxwell’s fifty

There has been a change. In back-to-back games, Maxwell never looked like trying to hit the cover off the ball. His knock against Royals had six fours and a six. All the while, he gave the impression of staying till the end and finishing the job.

KS Bharat complemented Maxwell well with a 35-ball 44, playing some good horizontal-bat shots along the way. Royals’ modest total followed by a rollicking start to RCB’s innings meant that the duo was never under any scoreboard pressure.

Royals’ middle-order implosion

They imploded from a prosperous position. Thanks to Evin Lewis’ power-punch, Royals were 56 for no loss after the Powerplay. When Lewis’ opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal got out in the ninth over after a 77-run stand, they were still going at nine runs per over and looking set for a total close to 200.

Things turned on their head after Lewis departed for a 37-ball 58. Samson would be disappointed, for he let his side down with a poor shot. The Royals skipper had the leeway to bat at his own pace and given his team’s iffy middle order, needed to bat deep. But he flattered to deceive.

Royals had just lost a wicket; Mahipal Lomror giving Yuzvendra Chahal a premeditated charge and getting stumped comfortably. Then, Samson fell prey to his bravado. Kohli had brought on spinners from both ends and it was Shahbaz Ahmed’s first ball. The delivery drifted away a little, Samson came down the track, hardly got to the pitch of the ball but went through with the shot. Padikkal at sweeper cover didn’t have to move an inch. Poor shot selection is a reason why Samson has failed to cement his place in the Indian T20 squad and he refuses to learn from his mistakes.

In the same over, Rahul Tewatia went for a sweep without riding the extra bounce. Padikkal took another catch, this time at deep backward square. Liam Livingstone came to the IPL with a big reputation. In England, however, he barely faces top-class spinners and Chahal in Asian conditions is a different kettle of fish. Livingstone swung at a flighted delivery and shook his head. The Royals’ batting suffered from collective irresponsibility.

From 109/2 after 12 overs, they slumped to 129/6 after 16. Then, Harshal Patel dealt with the tail, taking the wickets of Parag and Chris Morris off consecutive deliveries followed by Sakariya’s scalp to take his tournament tally to 25.

Earlier, Lewis was taking on debutant RCB fast bowler George Garton and hitting monstrous sixes. The latter eventually settled the score on the first ball of his second spell, inducing a top edge from the Royals opener. It was another short ball all right, but a touch slow. Kohli deserves credit for his bowling change.

Chahal impresses again

Poor batting from Royals notwithstanding, the two RCB spinners, Chahal and Ahmed, impressed. Chahal is regaining his form that had deserted him for the past one-and-a-half seasons, especially in international cricket. An elongated lean patch cost the leggie his place in India’s T20 World Cup squad, but as squads could be amended until October 10, he has an outside chance.

Chahal was fantastic during his 3/11 against Mumbai Indians in the previous game. This Dubai pitch, however, was very good for batting and when he was brought into the attack, Royals were in complete control. Along with Ahmed, he stemmed the run-flow and triggered a middle-order collapse. Chahal is no longer bowling a defensive line and pushing his deliveries through, giving the ball air instead and getting his leg-break going. His figures of 2/18 from four overs earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.

Ahmed made an impact with a two-wicket over. He was well-protected by his skipper, as Kohli didn’t bring him back at the death with Morris batting. The youngster had already done his job well.

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