A clinical, unbeaten innings of 132 from KL Rahul against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the highest individual score by a captain in the IPL, propelled the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a thumping victory over their skipper’s former IPL side, the margin being 97 runs.
The trend of a side opting to bowl first and conceding a bulk of runs in the powerplay continued, as the Karnataka pair of Lokesh Rahul and Mayank Agarwal took 50 runs off the first six overs. The spin-duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar restored some control for RCB in the next three overs, only for Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini to undo all their hard work with 20 and 14-run overs after the first time-out.
The introduction of Shivam Dube to the attack momentarily helped the RCB, as the medium-pacer first got Nicholas Pooran, and then Glenn Maxwell to go after him and hole out. It seemed like RCB were starting to make inroads in the game, especially when Rahul skied a ball, trying to clear the square leg boundary.
To everyone’s astonishment, Virat Kohli, perfectly positioned on the boundary, was unable to latch onto the chance. Kohli was guilty of dropping Rahul again in the next over, failing to grasp on to another simple chance running in from long-off. The two dropped catches cost the RCB 49 runs in the last couple of overs, as KXIP ended up with 206 on the board.
Defending 207, half the game was won by KXIP after the duo of Sheldon Cottrell and Mohammed Shami struck thrice in the first three overs, removing the in-form Padikkal, Josh Philippe, and the most vital of the three batsmen, Virat Kohli. It was left to Aaron Finch and AB de Villiers to pick up the pieces and re-structure the innings. They tried to do so until Ravi Bishnoi got a quicker one to sneak past Finch’s outside edge and clip the stumps in the 8th over.
The dismissal of de Villiers next over, caught spectacularly by Sarfaraz Khan at deep cover, pretty much spelled the end of the chase. Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube spent some time in the middle, trying to reduce the potential damage to the n0t run rate, until Dube played across a straighter one from Maxwell and had his stumps re-arranged. It took 4 more overs for the Kings XI Punjab to officially wrap things up. RCB were bundled out for 109, with their Net Run Rate dipping down to -2.175.
What went wrong for the Royal Challengers Bangalore today?
Hard work from the spinners undone by pacers in the middle-stages
The score read 50 for no wicket courtesy a solid start from the opening duo of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal when Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar were introduced into the attack. Three overs later, the score read 70 for the loss of Mayank Agarwal, who was cleaned up by a well-disguised googly from Chahal.
And then, Umesh Yadav, who has been sub-par with the ball in hand in his couple of matches so far, completely lost his control over his line and length and went for 20 in his third over, thereby releasing all the pressure created in the two previous overs. The pattern was repeated in the next three overs as well, after Chahal and Sundar gave away a combined total of 10 runs in the 11th and 12th, only for Navdeep Saini to follow up with a 14-run over. RCB, despite economical overs from Chahal and Sundar, conceded 44 runs between overs 9 and 13, which set the Kings XI Punjab perfectly for a score in excess of 200, which they got to eventually.
RCB’s death bowling
This has been a perennial problem for the RCB over the last few editions of the IPL, and it was no different today. Even Washington Sundar, who had only conceded 13 off his two overs, would have done a much better job had he been given his full quota of overs. Kings XI Punjab smashed a staggering 74 runs off the last four overs, with Lokesh Rahul contributing 60 of them.
It certainly did not help RCB that their skipper, Virat Kohli, one of the best fielders in the side, dropped two absolute sitters presented by KL Rahul. Had he pouched onto either one of them, RCB might have had a much, much lower target to chase, but instead, the last two overs, bowled by Dale Steyn and Shivam Dube helped KL Rahul get to a hundred and the Kings XI Punjab to a score in excess of 200.
Top 3 dismissed in the first 3 overs
Had RCB got off to the kind of start they did in their previous game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, they might have had a very good chance at the game, with the likes of Kohli and de Villiers in the middle order. Instead, They lost their entire firepower in the first couple of overs itself. Padikkal, fresh from his maiden IPL half-century, was unable to get going today, mistiming a length delivery from Cottrell which carried to the hands of mid-on. The ploy to promote Josh Philippe in his second match for RCB did not work, as he returned shortly afterwards after being dismissed caught behind.
To make matters worse for RCB, their skipper Virat Kohli, who would have been best suited for the situation like the one they faced today, fell playing a shot that only he could justify. It was identical to the one he got out trying to play in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semi-final against Australia, trying to pull Cottrell against the angle, he got a top-edge that was comfortably pouched at square leg.