Apart from Glenn Maxwell’s 59, RCB’s long batting order blanked and gave Sunrisers a real opportunity to get one up on their neighbours in Chennai. However, as it turned out, Shahbaz Ahmed came out as the unlikely hero with a three-wicket over to tilt the proceedings in RCB’s favour.
Match report in a Tweet
Two days, two games, several lost heartbeats, IPL has indeed begun in full flow. After KKR’s amazing collapse against MI, SRH decided to better it with an equally astonishing collapse against RCB, to succumb to a six-run defeat.
Where RCB won the game
There is really just the one over, which not just tilted the game in RCB’s favour but clutched everything away from the Sunrisers, the 17th over of the innings. From the unlikeliest of places, Shahbaz Ahmed came out and picked up three wickets, conceding just the one run to pull the proceeding back in RCB’s favour.
Shahbaz Ahmed’s promotion, part of the match-up game
For days and months, we have criticised Virat Kohli for employing one of the dullest strategies in the Indian Premier League but this year is something different. For Bengal in the Syed Mushtaq Ali, the left-handed batsman batted primarily in the middle-order, specifically at No.5 and below. Now, what tilted the selection in his favour? His Vijay Hazare numbers, where he proved himself as more than a bowling all-rounder, playing for Bengal, with 163 runs at an average of 40.75 and a strike rate to the south of 110.
However, this decision is more specific, to understand - it is really to shield the likes of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers - against the uncanny customer Rashid Khan. Also, with Shahbaz Nadeem playing for Sunrisers, this decision allows for the left-hander to make use of the match-up, which in turn, allows a greater depth in batting for the Men in Red and Gold. Sending Shahbaz was a punt worth taking, even if it only lasted 10 deliveries. This is what match-ups are all about, first Washington Sundar as the opener and today, Ahmed as the No.3.
The contrasting tale of middle-overs
Hey Alexa, play me Slow Death - Flamin’ Grooves, sorry that song is reserved for Royal Challengers Bangalore during the middle-overs. Say no more, Alexa, say no more! If RCB’s batting display had to be summed today in short, this is it, it was a slow death, even though Glenn Maxwell and Kohli combined to get 22 runs off Shahbaz Nadeem’s last over in the encounter. 56 runs came off overs from 7-14, which is just three runs ahead of what they managed to score on an average from last year. This is even when they have AB de Villiers, Maxwell and Christian, astonishing whichever way you look at it, at 6.625, end of the debate.
Now, the contrasting part, Sunrisers Hyderabad with the ball, last year, they conceded just 6.89 runs in the middle-phase, picking up two wickets on an average in every game. This game though, for them was above average, where they picked three wickets, breaking RCB’s backbone - Kohli and de Villiers - which put the Bangalore side into a state of submission. David Warner’s use of Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the best in the league, other skippers need to learn from his book.
Yuzvendra Chahal’s form could be a deal-breaker for RCB’s season
Coming into this season of the IPL, Yuzvendra Chahal had endured one of his worst series in the Indian colours, against England. His last three T20Is read - 1/41, 1/34 and 1/44 - which led to the management dropping him for Rahul Chahar. His form since then hasn’t changed, conceding 41 runs against defending champions Mumbai without picking any wicket. With Chahal struggling and by struggling, really badly, Kohli has no choice but to trust in Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj and Kyle Jamieson to pick up wickets. Are they prolific wicket-takers, no, which is exactly what could be a deal-breaker for RCB’s season.
Despite making the batting look long on paper, RCB have a considerable downside with the ball, lack of strike-bowlers, after the release of Chris Morris. Unless Chahal picks up form or Navdeep Saini starts showing some kind of superhero return, RCB are going to have to bet on the fine line with Harshal Patel. But the question is, would that be enough?
RCB need to take a punt on Finn Allen, not Virat Kohli
41.9 runs is all that RCB averaged in the 2020 IPL season, in the powerplay, despite having the likes of Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal at the top of the order. 46 runs is all that they could score in the first game and they followed it up today with 47 runs on the board, rising just marginally from last year. That’s where the issue lies - they lose out the fizz in the powerplay, largely owing to Virat Kohli, who does not take advantage of the powerplay restrictions.
In the powerplay, Kohli scored 39 runs off 26 deliveries, at a strike rate of just above par, a phase that is crucial in Chennai, with batting becoming a tough task in the rest of the innings. That’s exactly where Kohli and RCB could potentially take advantage of, albeit with some crucial changes, which means their skipper has to slot back to No.3, a position that he has mastered over the years. Since 2019, in the powerplay, RCB’s new star Finn Allen has scored 329 runs at an average of 65.8 and a strike rate of 205.6
Not just that, take that to T20I cricket, at the highest level, the right-handed batsman has scored 63 runs off 28 deliveries, at a strike rate of 225, which means RCB are sure shot to get the best start possible, especially with an anchor in the form of Devdutt Padikkal. At the top of the order, in an IPL season where no franchise has two anchors - RCB have two, two similar batsmen, which spells problematic. So, the boot to Dan Christian, who seems to be an extra in this setup.
The MVP - Rashid Khan
‘Stop the press’ was the common comment after AB de Villiers walked back to the hut for a five-ball one, the chief in-wreck behind de Villiers’ dismissal, Rashid Khan. Arguably the most skilled T20 bowler, Rashid delivered yet again, another masterclass with 2/18.
Match Frenzy O Meter - ‘C’ollapse
Chennai had some thrillers thus far in the IPL but at this point, it is best for us to realise that the remaining games might just feature a similar tinge to the conditions, slow and dry. And that combined with RCB’s awkward approach led to a looooong first innings, which lacked any kind of action apart from Glenn Maxwell. But come to the second innings, we witnessed yet another collapse at the venue, stop it Chennai and stop it franchisees, don’t chase, please!