The action moves to Dubai for Monday as Delhi Capitals and RCB sweat it out at the Ring of Fire. Both the teams are yet to receive the laurels of being the IPL champion and coincidentally both of them are looking in form this season. Each of RCB and DC has lost only one match so far, the winner of today’s match will go to the pinnacle position at the points table. Hence, there was a lot to play for, for both these teams.
Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field- a decision which only went on to show the lack of confidence Kohli has on his bowlers. The team selection was a bit off for RCB tonight, as Moeen Ali came in to replace the ill Zampa in the team. It was not at all a good decision considering the strong Indian line-up of DC and the disproportionate square boundaries of the ground.
Prithvi Shaw looked to have come out with clear intentions tonight. For the past couple of games, Prithvi was brisk in the powerplay, but he was looking to build a long inning to give his side a solid platform. Today he seemed to be sent out with clear instructions of playing a Sehwagsque kind of role. He started throwing his bat at everything and the pace of Udana and Navdeep Saini helped him in his venture. Shaw’s square-of-the-wicket game was on full display tonight as he cut, pulled, and slashed with that Brian Lara like trigger movement.
He was dismissed by an impressive Siraj, who showed a lot of heart in bowling a body-line bouncer even after being pulled for 4 by the diminutive right-hander. Then a bit of slump in the Delhi innings took place, as Udana, Moeen, and Sundar supplied a choke on the opposition middle order. Dhawan was expected to get going after the fall of Prithvi, however, the majority of his innings tonight comprised of mistimed hits. No wonder, he finally was holed out in the deep ending his painstaking innings of 32 from 28 deliveries.
Washington Sundar again looked excellent in the powerplay and I love the fact, that Virat has been consistent with his implementation through the last few matches. Finally, when Moeen dismissed Iyer in the 12th over, caught at deep midwicket, the spin choke was officially fastened on the Men in Blue.
Delhi’s inning was interesting in a way that you generally expect someone to play through the 20 overs scoring 80-90 if the team reaches a score of 197. However, for Delhi 3 important cameos led to this mammoth total. The DC innings looked to be a lovely sandwich between Prithvi’s pyrotechnics and Stoinis and Pant’s butchery in the slog overs. Stoinis is really flourishing in his role as a finisher this IPL and he may well be competing with Maxwell for the finisher’s spot in the national team, by the end of this tournament.
Tonight, Stoinis was helped by a faulty bit of captaincy from Virat. Given Stoinis’ history of weakness against spin, Chahal should have been allowed to complete his quota of 4 overs. If Pant was the reason, Kohli did not bowl Chahal, he could have used the long boundaries to the leg side of Pant, just like he did in the 13th over. With that strategy, he would have allowed his premier spinner a huge opportunity to pick up either or both of Stoinis and Pant before the 15th over.
However, Stoinis took great advantage of the pace of Saini, Udana, and Siraj to get set and to launch them over the boundary. RCB’s designated death bowler Saini had an off day today and that did not help matters either for the Bangalore based franchise. Stoinis took full toll on a series of low full tosses and short balls to get to his 2nd half-century of the season. However, among the dismal performance of the bowlers, Mohmamamd Siraj shone with the ball tonight as he picked 2 valuable wickets of Prithvi and Pant conceding only 34 from his 4 overs.
RCB’s chase was a tutorial from Shreyas Iyer about how to use your bowlers to take full advantage of the long square boundaries. At least 4 of the 9 wickets of RCB fell because Shreyas strategically used the dimensions of the ground to his advantage. I would try to illustrate a few dismissals here to appreciate the leadership qualities of this young man at such a tender age.
Ashwin comes on to bowl the 3rd over to Devdut Paddikal. The off spinner’s stock delivery will be spinning away from the left-hander and if Paddikal wants to play the inside-out shot, with the spin, he has to clear the long boundary. Otherwise, if he wants to aim for the shorter boundary he has to go against the spin, which may induce a top edge. Paddikal tried to clear the short boundary against the spin and got holed out to Stoinis at deep midwicket.
Axar Patel comes on to bowl in the very next over. The same trap was set for Finch, this time. He has to clear the long boundary with the left arm orthodox spin or go against the spin for the shorter boundary. Finch, seeing Devdut’s plight by going against spin, wanted to clear the longer boundary with the spin. This time, however, an outside edge was induced in the inside-out stroke and Pant grabbed it behind the stumps.
De Villiers’ dismissal in the final over of the powerplay by Nortje meant that the only thing that could have saved RCB tonight was the Kohli miracle. Kohli just started to get into his groove with his wristy flicks and fast running between the wickets, with Moeen Ali for company. The duo formulated a decent 32-run partnership and was looking good to shift gears when Shreyas Iyer brought back Axar Patel. With the required rate rising Moeen was expected to go big against the left armer. Once again the disproportionately long boundary took effect, as Moeen was holed out in the deep by Hetmeyer.
From then on Kohli had to play a blinder to take his team home and it was difficult to do that against the bowling line up of DC. Finally, he edged Rabada to Pant, to officially mark the end of the chase for RCB tonight. Kagiso Rabada was at his lethal best having shrugged off any possible disappointment from the KKR match. His yorkers once again dislodged the middle stumps and his short balls once again caused discomfort to the batsmen. Finally, he ended the game with 4 wickets, as RCb lost the game by a huge margin of 59 runs. There was a time in IPL when Malinga and Purple Cap were synonymous with each other. Will it be the same for Rabada this time? We will find out soon.
As I have been saying time and again, RCB needs to bring back Dale Steyn. You cannot buy years of experience in the market and the value of seasoned campaigners is something that we have seen time and again in the IPL. Virat needs to pull out his Steyn-gun otherwise RCb bowling is going to get exploited time and again like tonight.