The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batsmen produced a magnificent batting performance, led by Abraham Benjamin de Villiers, on a very slow Sharjah wicket against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) before their bowlers wrapped things up comprehensively to earn their side a thumping 82-run victory in the latest encounter of the 2020 IPL.
Having won the toss and batted, openers Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch got RCB off to a dream start, as they raced to 58 off 7 overs. Both openers found a way to reduce the length of the pitch while facing up to the quicks to ensure the ball came on to the bat properly; while Aaron Finch took guard a couple of feet outside the batting crease, Padikkal often skipped down the pitch to the quicks, Cummins in particular, and smashed them over the off-side field.
Two pinpoint yorkers accounted for both the openers eventually; Padikkal, trying to run down the pitch and make room for himself yet again, this time against Andre Russell, was comprehensively beaten for pace and by the length and had his middle-stump being knocked out in the 8th over. Finch, too, suffered a similar fate 4 overs later; with 3 runs away from his fifty, he could not keep out a full and straight delivery from Prasidh Krishna despite standing deep in his crease, and the middle-stump took a hit once again.
Virat Kohli, in typical Virat Kohli fashion, began his innings with a plethora of runs between the wickets. With the openers providing such a great start on such a wicket, Kohli knew that he had to repeat what he did against the Chennai Super Kings in their previous game and hope that he had a partner who could provide him adequate support.
He got the support all right, and it was a lot more than adequate. While Kohli was unable to find the fence throughout the middle-overs, AB de Villiers, his partner all this while, had adjusted to the wicket well enough. The consequences of him settling to the conditions turned out to be the core cause of the eventual result, as de Villiers tore into the KKR bowlers in the last 5 overs.
It was hitting of the highest order, and the fact that the ball was stopping before coming onto the bat before that had completely diminished from everyone’s minds. De Villiers’ mind-boggling onslaught meant that RCB had scored 83 runs in the last 5 overs, which helped them post a total of 194, and the KKR batsmen then had a mountain to climb.
Tom Banton, playing his first IPL game, never looked to be in, losing his off-stump to a rapid delivery from Navdeep Saini. The RCB spinners, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal then put the squeeze on the pair of Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill, which caused the fall of the former’s wicket, clean bowled by Sundar after he failed to connect with a slog.
The pressure got to Gill as well, who misjudged a single and was left well short at the keeper’s end in the 10th over. Dinesh Karthik, coming in ahead of Russell, did nothing captain-worthy with the bat, dragging Chahal onto his stumps off his second delivery. 4 balls later, Eoin Morgan, trying to go over extra cover off the front foot, was forced to play off his back foot by a quick, back-of-a-length delivery from Sundar, and ended up slicing a catch to Udana at short-third man.
With 124 required off the last 8, Andre Russell proved to be KKR’s last hope yet again and he did provide some resistance, smashing 14 off the first three balls from Udana’s first over of the evening. Udana then had his revenge in the same over, as Russell’s bat turned in his hand while tried to dispatch a full-toss over mid-off, and Mohammad Siraj completed a decent catch at cover. With the Jamaican’s departure, the game was up for KKR.
Rahul Tripathi, demoted all the way down to number 7 from the opening slot from the last match, ended up batting 22 balls and was dismissed by a Siraj delivery that stopped on the pitch, ballooned up upon contact with the bat, and brilliantly pouched by Chris Morris at mid-off. KKR eventually batted out the 20 overs and posted 112, which saw their NRR spiral down a long way.
RCB v KKR – Major Talking Points from the game
RCB openers showing skill and application to counter the slowness of the pitch
As mentioned earlier, both RCB openers, Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch, reduced the length of the pitch while facing the quicks in the powerplay to ensure that the ball came on well to the bat. Along with that, both of them did not rush into their shots, instead they watched the ball very, very closely and played their shots accordingly, something that Aaron Finch, who was in need for runs before today, mentioned at the halfway mark.
While Finch stood well outside the crease, Padikkal danced down the wicket to one of the best bowlers of the world currently, Pat Cummins, and dispatched him over the off-side field. The only way KKR could restrict the boundary count was with short balls, and the last over of the powerplay from Russell helped in stopping the flow of runs.
Abraham Benjamin de Villiers delivering his latest ‘special’
“On a pitch like that, only AB can do that. It was a special knock. We got 195 purely because of the genius of that man.” ~ Virat Kohli
“Genius. Find me another word for AB de Villiers. This one will do for now! Genius.” ~ Harsha Bhogle
What else can be said about this individual after such comments from people of such stature? On a deteriorating Sharjah pitch where the batsmen have found it difficult to score runs over the last couple of matches, with the world’s best batsmen struggling as well today, AB de Villiers looked like he was batting on a completely different strip. An innings like that would be lauded irrespective of the conditions, as it was a masterclass on how to set yourself up as a for the death overs and make the most out of failed yorkers and length deliveries.
De Villiers, who was 8 off 9 at the end of the 15th, began his onslaught with two towering sixes off Kamlesh Nagarkoti and ended his spell for the night by flicking him to the fine leg fence, which caused Nagarkoti’s figures to go from 18 in 3 overs to 36 in 4. Pat Cummins was next in the firing line, as de Villiers first smashed him over the long-off fence, then swatted a short of length delivery to the mid-wicket fence, and two balls later, cleared the mid-wicket ropes by swatting a full toss. De Villiers brought up his fifty in the following over with yet another towering six over mid-wicket off Russell, eventually finishing with 73 to his name without being dismissed.
ALSO READ: IPL 2020, Match 25: Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore – RCB handed 37-run win after yet another botched-up CSK run-chase
Opening with Tom Banton backfiring big time for KKR
Accommodating rookie England opener Tom Banton, who got a game in place of Sunil Narine, meant that KKR had to play the opener at his natural position and demote Rahul Tripathi, who had made a good impression in the game against CSK by scoring 81 and laying the foundation for the rest of the batting, back to the number 7 slot. The fact that KKR had to chase 195 on a slow deck against an in-form RCB bowling attack only piled up against the IPL debutant, who, having never looked comfortable in the middle, ended up playing 12 balls in exchange of 8 runs before Navdeep Saini sent his off-stump for a tumble.
By the time Rahul Tripathi walked in, RCB were well and truly bossing the game, and there was not much he could do. Tripathi’s services went underutilized yet again, something that mirrors everything that is going wrong with the KKR think-tank currently.
Shubman Gill not accelerating in the middle-overs yet again
Make no mistake, he is a truly talented Cricketer who is capable of playing the big shots. But Shubman Gill, despite being in the runs in this year’s IPL, has left a lot to be desired in terms of his batting, or to be more specific, his batting after he had played himself in. While his U19 World Cup 2018 teammate Prithvi Shaw has been pacing his innings really well in the past few matches, Gill has just not been able to put his foot down and go on the attack.
In the process, he has taken too many deliveries away from the big-hitting middle-order of Morgan and Russell, which has cost KKR those extra few runs that could have seen them placed much better in the points table.