The Chepauk finally gave the batsmen a reason to smile as RCB trumped a headless KKR in a run-fest to make it 3/3 and maintain their position at the top of the table. Andre Russell threatened to do a 2019, but eventually it was the Maxwell-AB show that proved to be game-defining.
KKR’s obsession with over-bowling spinners - in particular Shakib - in the powerplay is hurting the side
Unlike any other side, KKR have tormented their opponents in the powerplay with spin and they’ve bore fruit for the same. They’ve started off with spin in each of their three games and their opponents’ scores have looked as follows: 11/2 (3), 10/1 (2) and 12/2 (3). These are remarkable starts on a ground like Chennai, where the first six overs have been viewed as the best time to bat. Where the Knight Riders have lost the plot, however, is with their obsession to over-bowl spin up-front. Today, for the third game running, a second over from one of their finger spinners brought the batting side back into the game. After the second overs from Harbhajan and Shakib had cost 14 and 12 versus MI and SRH respectively, today, the second over of Shakib cost 17 runs, releasing all pressure that’d been built up. In hindsight, perhaps it was not prudent to keep bowling Shakib with the new ball, given he’d conceded at 8.21 in the powerplay across his five previous seasons in the IPL. You suspect they’ll ditch this tactic when they move to Wankhede next up, but this is something they’ll look back on and rue.
Eoin Morgan’s schoolboy error
How can you have six bowling options - 3 spin and 3 pace - and end up bowling Harbhajan Singh of all people in the 19th over of the game? That’s a question for Eoin Morgan to answer. What was evident today was that the KKR skipper got his tactics - and plans - horrendously wrong. The spinners being carted around by Maxwell meant that the pacers had to be brought back into the attack early, due to which both Prasidh and Cummins had to be bowled out by the 17th over. That’s fine. Where Morgan erred, though, was by not bringing Russell into the attack earlier, and making the Jamaican bowl 3 overs. That Russell got plundered for 38 off his 2 overs was due to the genius of AB, but it still does not take away the fact that the Jamaican was still the side’s best bet at the death. By bowling Harbhajan in the 19th, Morgan and KKR gifted 18 runs to RCB, which took away any momentum that KKR could carry into the second innings.
Hot take zone
It’s time for KKR to drop Shakib Al Hasan
1/34 (4), 1/23 (4), 0/24 (2) with the ball and no noteworthy contributions with the bat - Shakib’s second-coming has, thus far, been largely pedestrian. He is undoubtedly a cricketer capable of turning the tide around, but with KKR shifting base to Wankhede, Shakib really has no place in the side. Perhaps he might have made a case if he’d made an impact with the bat, but Wankhede being a graveyard for spinners means that KKR simply cannot afford to have a third-choice left-arm-orthodox spinner who is inherently an average-at-best T20 batsman. Instead, the Knight Riders would be better off bolstering their pace-battery by drafting in Lockie Ferguson, particularly with Prasidh struggling for control. Cummins, at this point in time, has been carrying the pace-attack on his own, and both him and KKR would only benefit with the addition of Ferguson, who with his raw pace and variations could be an absolute menace at the Wankhede.
MVP - Glenn Maxwell
Without a doubt, Glenn Maxwell. AB stole the show towards the end but Maxwell, today, played arguably the best innings of IPL 2021. At 19/2 after 4 overs, with Kohli gone and Padikkal struggling to hit the ball out of the square, RCB had no business scoring over 150, but Maxwell ensured that he set up a platform so good that it enabled de Villiers to take the team over the 200-run mark. We can now proclaim with confidence that the Maxwell of 2014 is finally back, better than ever.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Surprisingly good
A run-fest was not what we expected prior to the game, but Chepauk, for the first time this season, delivered. The bounce was true, turn was minimal and it enabled the batters to hit through the line without the fear of the ball getting stuck on the wicket. We got to witness both AB and Maxi launch pyrotechnics, what more does a viewer need, honestly?