Other than their star batting caste, Royal Challengers Bangalore also have an envious bowling line-up that is the most expensive in IPL-8. Until their last match on Friday, RCB’s bowlers were blasted left, right and center. On an average, the celebrated bowlers had leaked 9.55 per over in the four matches, including the one against CSK, two days ago. With batting failures, fielding lapses and below-par bowling RCB were going nowhere this season. All of all sudden, a change was brought about, when Mitchell Starc and his colleagues bowled with fire and reduced the mighty Rajasthan Royals to 130/9 at Ahmedabad. Afterwards, chasing 131 was no sweat as Chris Gayle made 20, Kohli came up with another fifty and AB de Villiers scored a 34-ball 47. It was an emphatic away-game finish for RCB, who looked down in the dumps until the other day. RCB’s turnaround victory over the Royals should come as morale booster for the Bangalore side that has now won 2 games out of 5 played so far. It is still a long series and if Friday’s performance is any indicator, RCB can look forward to an improved finish this IPL season. On personal front, improvement in RCB’s performance can make Virat Kohli a happier man, whose leadership and cricketing abilities have come under an ugly microscope. A series of losses, despite good personal performance, has diverted the media attention to issues unrelated to cricket and the victory against RR should bring the much-needed relief to the young and talented sportsman.
On Friday, the toss proved helpful to RCB as their bowlers jolted Rajasthan Royals, who were asked to bat first by Virat Kohli. Although Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson produced a 36-run opening stand, orange-capped Rahane fell relatively early against RCB. Harshal Patel’s slower delivery from off side struck Rahane on the pads as the batsman shaped for a leg-side shot. He was declared out leg-before-wicket in the 5th over. Watson followed him in the 6th from Yazuvendra Chahal as the Australian holed out to wide long on, where Mitchell Starc was ready for the pouch. Wickets kept falling as Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Sanju Samson and Steve Smith departed one after another to reduce RR to 119/6 in the 18th over. Three more wickets without making any substantial contribution as RR reached just 130/9 at the end of 20 overs.
When RCB came on to chase 131, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli were back as the openers. Since the asking rate was manageable, the openers avoided needless adventure. Gayle faced 17 balls for his 20 runs, hit 3 fours and 1 six and fell as RCB’s only wicket in the 5th over. AB de Villiers joined Kohli, who was stroking well already. It was a smooth progress afterwards as the two accomplished batsmen carried RCB to a deserving 9-wicket victory with 23 balls remaining. Kohli finished the match with 62 off 46 balls with a four and 3 sixes while AB’s 34-ball 47 had 6 fours. The result boosted RCB in another way as they rose up the points table leaving Mumbai Indians at the bottom.