Weekend time means a doubleheader in IPL 2020. The only change that has happened in due course of the tournament is that the afternoon sun has cooled down a bit and it has become a bit easier for the players out in the middle. Today’s afternoon game was a very critical one, as RCB and RR faced off for their 2nd match in the tournament. If RCB came out victorious, it would consolidate their position in the top 4 and make the road to the playoffs smoother. ON the other hand, it was most important for RR to win, as losing this match would land them in must-win territory for the next 5 matches to make it to the playoffs.

Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals

Steve Smith won the toss and chose to bat. There are some captains, who find it too difficult to rectify their mistakes promptly. Smith is one of them, as he again sent out Stokes to open the batting today. Luckily for RR, Robin Uthappa accompanies Stokes. I have been saying in every RR match report, that Uthappa needs to open the batting. The results were visible today as the veteran right-hander raced to 41 off 22 deliveries giving a solid start to RR, exploiting the powerplay field restrictions.

Stokes, no wonder, failed again at the top of the order as he got dismissed for 15. I found it inexplicable that RR stuck to Stokes even after choosing Uthappa as the other opening partner. That only meant that the highly successful Butler, who has changed matches for RR for the past 2 seasons with the abt, at the top of the order, dropped down to 5. Absolutely brain-fade strategy from RR to be honest.

Chris Morris of Royal Challengers

Today RR corrected one half of their opening pair. Let’s hope they rectify the other half pretty soon. After Stokes got dismissed by a slower from Morris and Chahal took responsibility to end Robin’s cameo, it was down to Samson and Smith to negotiate the middle overs. Smith is a completely different batsman when there are gaps in the field. The reason, he was finding it difficult in the last few matches was that he was coming out in the powerplay. With point, cover, midwicket, and square-leg inside the 30-yard circle, he found it tough to milk the bowler for singles.

Today he was at his best, as he dominated the middle overs, running hard between the wickets and hitting the odd boundary. He scored 57 off 36 deliveries to anchor the inning for RR- something that he has so often done in the past. With Samson missing out cheaply, Butler had to bear the responsibility to control the middle overs along with Smith. As I expected changing his batting position from Opening to No. 5 affected his game big time as he scored 24 at lesser-than-run-a-ball.

Thanks to Steve Smith and the impressive Rahul Tewatia, who is making a name for himself with some handy cameos down the order, RR posted an above-par score of 177-6. It is strange how times change. Six months ago, Simon Doull called RCB’s buying of Chris Morris for 10.5 crores as mindless bidding. In fact, KKR’s acquisition of Cummins for 15.5 crores was thought to be a better buy than Chris Morris. RCB is looking like a different bowling attack ever since Morris joined them, while KKR’s premier fast bowler has scalped 2 wickets in 8 matches.

Morris today dismissed all the 4 overseas players of RR in the form of Butler, Smith Stokes, and Archer to put a lid on RR’s scoring rate. To imagine, that he conceded only 26, even after going for 14 off his 3rd over is just mind-boggling. Yuzi Chahal- the king of the middle overs spun a web around the opposition, as usual, dismissing Samson & Uthappa and RCB once again looked a complete bowling side on the field.

RCB came out to bat with their trusted opening duo at the crease. I feel the best part about RCB’s batting this season, has been that batsmen have been assigned specific roles. It is clear from the approach of Finch and Paddikal that RCB wants a solid start from their openers, rather than an explosive start. They would rather prefer to be at 42-0 at the end of 6 rather than being at 28-3.

Finch departed early today, after looking in impressive touch. The impressive leggie, Shreyas Gopal accounted for the burly Australian, with a well-tossed up delivery. After the first wicket, the chase-master Kohli and Paddikal held forte, laying a foundation for the chase.

The only issue I have with RCB’s chase today is that Kohli and Pddikal looked too sedate in the middle overs. While rotation of strike is the most important part of the partnership, the duo did not put away the bad balls to the boundaries. In a bid to play risk-free cricket, RCB dug themselves into a pit, as they scored just 53 between overs 7-14, losing 2 wickets in the process. Kohli and Paddikal both had a strike rate of just around 100, something that could have hurt them considering the match situation.

Both Kohli and Paddikal got dismissed off consecutive deliveries, landing RCB in a further soup. The very impressive Tyagi is improving with every passing match and his accuracy and consistency of deliveries are looking much beyond his years. The way he is complimenting Jofra Archer should be a matter of pride for the young chap. Tonight Tyagi probably scalped his dream wicket of the IPLas he had Kohli caught at deep mid-wicket courtesy of a magnificent catch by Rahul Tewatia.

And then the Superman landed at the stadium. Just when RR was thinking that they have got hold of the target defense with some excellent bowling from Archer and Tyagi, AB De Villiers changed the match-ONCE AGAIN. De Villiers is playing a role for RCB, that Andre Russell played for KKR last year. The South African is playing freak cameos to win him team games, that they should have lost. Once again, he proved to be the difference between the 2 sides today.

With 35 required off the last 2 overs, RCB was looking to have lost grip over the match on a slowing pitch. But then Smith decided to use Unadkat in the penultimate over- a decision that will be debated for long. However, I feel that it would not have made much of a difference had Archer bowled the 19th over. When De Villiers is in demolishing form, you just need to stand back and appreciate the great guy, even as an opposition captain. AB smashed Unadkat for 3 consecutive sixes to take 25 off his over and wrapped up the game with another six off Jofra.

By the time, the game ended Superman AB has raced to 55 off 22 deliveries on a pitch, which seemed sluggish to other batsmen. With this win, RCB looks to have laid a foot on the playoffs already with 12 points. While RR needs to get their batting order right and win every game from now, it is a bed of roses for the men in red. However, there was a tactical mistake from Kohli today, that got overshadowed by AB’s brilliance. Morris should have come out to bat ahead of Gurkeerat Singh Mann at 5 today, to lend more support to AB.