AB de Villiers was the single biggest differentiator tonight as Royal Challengers Bangalore overcame a sure loss to emerge victorious against a spirited Nottinghamshire by four wickets. The Saffer found able support from Washington Sundar, whose 14-ball 28 helped RCB finish the game off in style.
After being put to bat first, Nottinghamshire were powered by their main man Alex Hales, who repeated his glorious run of form to scamper Bangalore bowlers to perfection. Although Virat Kohli’s assortment of bowlers helped the RCB pull one back in the middle overs, Notts skipper Dan Christian played out of skin to help guide the Vitality Blast side to 163.
It was an easy target for the RCB in more ways than one but their start to the run-chase was anything but that. Losing Virat Kohli, Aaron Finch and Parthiv Patel inside the powerplay put them off in the game, but AB de Villiers had other plans. He started his innings in a very calm manner but accelerated later to ensure a crazy finish as the IPL side secured a four-wicket win.
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While the game slowly changed the course in the second half, in hindsight, the middle-over phase of the Nottinghamshire innings was where the game was decided. After having a cracking start to the innings, thanks to Alex Hales, the likes of Tom Moores and Ben Duckett failed the English side, which eventually turned out to be the decider.
Highs and Lows
All hail the man from Pretoria! What a crazy cricketer he is! A game in which RCB had no business winning, de Villiers turned the game around with little support from Washington Sundar. The fact that he left not a single Notts bowler to take his attack on talks a lot more sense and definitely, adds another chapter to his already-overflowing legend.
The inability to take wickets when they had the advantage was the biggest low in the game - for Notts could have easily won the match otherwise. The main batsmen, sans de Villiers, were dismissed and if Christin would have brought Gurney for one more over up-front, who knows, RCB might have been a disastrous position then.
Powerplay exploitation: Bangalore 1.5/10 Nottinghamshire 7.5/10
Nottinghamshire’s script against Delhi Capitals almost played out once again - this time against RCB, with Hales being the aggressor in action. The former English opener ensured no bowlers - from Saini to Yadav - were spared, with the team scoring at 10 RPO. It was almost like a one-man show, with his partner-in-crime Joe Clarke and Ben Duckett staying surprisingly silent.
The kind of un-IPL-like performance that RCB have put up in this Champions League SRL, you would be forgiven to think that it was a cakewalk for RCB in the powerplay. But in reality, it was a total RCB-like performance in every way possible. Harry Gurney broke their back by dismissing Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel and RCB’s hopes started to fade away with that. RCB eventually managed a total of 41 runs with the field restriction on - a different story from their English counterparts altogether.
Middle-overs manoeuvring: Bangalore 5/10 Nottinghamshire 4/10
More often than not, when a team starts well, you bank on them to carry the same momentum forward. Not this time, though. After scoring 60 runs in the first six overs, the next nine overs yielded just 50 with four more batsmen being dismissed. Once Hales was dismissed in the 8th Over, the run-scoring temperament nose dived drastically with the next seven overs adding only 32 runs.
It was definitely an improved performance for RCB as compared to their powerplay and they had a certain AB de Villiers to thank for the same. Even though the top three were dismissed cheaply, de Villiers kept him calm to score runs by a tickle to give them a winning chance. 63 runs in nine overs might not be a great deal but with de Villiers entering the death overs, you ought to have fear.
Death bowling: Bangalore 3/10 Nottinghamshire 2/10
It was such a roller coaster that one can only associate RCB with. Their mercurial nature came to the fore once again, with the Vitality Blast side salvaging some sort of pride in the death. The RCB bowlers failed to sustain the momentum generated in the middle overs, with Notts skipper Dan Christian playing a sweet cameo. His 42 runs helped the Outlaws get to 163 - certainly a better deal from the poised position they were in but RCB bowlers would rue their performance.
This is a game that Notts will remember for a long long time. That one guy - with impeccable power as a batsman and a charismatic ability to change the course of the game - stood tall and all the bowlers suffered the wrath. So much so that 58 runs were scored in the next 27 balls, with the South African scoring 34 off it. Not only de Villiers, but the Notts bowling duo of Gurney and Carter also had to face some beating from Washington Sundar, whose bloody good 14-ball 28 cameo was the showstopper.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Great
Even though it was partly dull, AB de Villiers played a street-smart innings to give Alex Hales’ no-holds-barred batting a solid rival. All in all, it was a game that had many faces, something a neutral like me has enjoyed to the core.