In the second match of the day, RCB faced off against CSK. The veteran warhorse MS Dhoni reeling under the pressure of consecutive losses faced an upbeat RCB, who for the first time in the history of the tournament, was looking fluent in their team selection and plan execution. Virat Kohli’s smile at the toss said it all- for the first time in his franchise leadership tenure, he looked proud of his team as a whole.
To begin with, I feel RCB went in with their best eleven tonight. Virat should not look to chop or change the lineup and should aim to give his first 11 a string of matches under their belt. Chris Morris made his debut for RCB tonight and the injection of the South African allrounder made the balance of the side impressive. RCB won the toss and chose to bat on a surface, that looked slow at the outset.
Paddikal and Finch have got a significant role in the success of RCB in this season, as both of them are taking a lot of pressure off Virat and AB. Finch was dismissed early tonight by that dreaded inswinger, which has resulted in his undoing all throughout his career. After a long time, it was nice to see Chahar swinging the new ball both ways in the powerplay. After Finch’s dismissal, Virat and Paddikal judged the pitch well and decided to build a solid base, from where they can accelerate in the slog overs.
Paddikal is showing exceptional maturity with the bat in this tournament. He is playing the aggressor’s role when the team wants him to. He has played second fiddle to his partner as well for quite a number of times in the tournament. Today he played the role of a consolidator scoring at almost run a ball to help RCB set up a stable base for the end overs.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and Virat Kohli is the toughest of the lot. Virat had found form a couple of matches ago against RR and today he continued his rich vein of form. He ran hard between the wickets converting singles into doubles putting pressure on the fielders. Devdut and his captain milked the spinners of CSK for 7-8 runs an over, just by playing risk-free cricket and running hard between the wickets.
Young cricketers if you want a guide as to how to build your inning on a difficult wicket, you see Virat’s inning today. Out of the 90 runs, he scored today, he scored 50 off them in singles and doubles in the heat of Dubai. Once, he got his eye in and adjusted the speed of his bat swing to suit the pace of the pitch he looked in a different league altogether. The ball started making that sweet sound off the middle of the bat and his array of wristy flicks, cover drives, and square drives decimated the CSK bowlers.
Virat’s cover drives have been given enough adjectives time and again. Hence, I don’t have any more adjectives to describe the exquisite drives Virat hit today. But that one shot, where he ran down the wicket and flicked Sam Curran for six over the square-leg boundary, is going to stay in IPL archives for the next 10 years.
Virat raced to a 90 off 52 balls on a track where the next highest score was 42 of 40 balls by Ambati Rayudu. That is the exact class of Virat Kohli and the people who were criticizing Virat for his performances in the first 3 matches of the season need to understand that legends like Virat operate on a level that is difficult for his criticizers to fathom. We are blessed to be born in an era where we can witness such class from Virat and we should be thankful to him for the same.
Shardul Thakur misfired with the ball at the death tonight compounding CSK’s woes. MS Dhoni got his calculations wrong (as unbelievable as it might sound, it happened) and Bravo was left stranded with one over up his sleeve. Sam Curran conceded 24 off his last over, as Virat took a liking to his pace. Finally, RCB ended with 169-4, an above par score on this surface.
In this tournament, CSK chase has followed a set template. Begin slow- Play slower-take the required rate to beyond 36-smash a couple of sizes and bring down the margin of defeat. An exception occurs if either or both their openers fire- something that occurred in the KXIP match as well as in the KKR match. Today was no different. Washington Sundar, who is gradually returning to his powerplay bowling form, accounted for 2 openers. Virat was meticulous to use him from the end which would expose the long leg side boundary of the right-hander. Faf fell victim to that as he slog-swept one straight to deep square leg’s hand.
Jagdeesan looked impressive in his first match of the season and perhaps he was the only batsman with some intent tonight for CSK. Unfortunately for CSK, he was runout in the 15th over, and then a familiar struggle started for the CSK middle order. MS Dhoni fell prey to a wonderful leg break from Chahal and then it was a procession for CSK.
Wickets were offered on buffet and Morris, Udana and Chahal feasted on them. Finally, the painstaking struggle for CSK ended at 132-8. Rayudu top-scored with 42, but he never looked like having any intent to up the ante to chase down the total.
RCB is looking like a completely different unit with the addition of Morris. While it’s true that the death bowling was not exploited today, but Morris, Udana, and Navdeep at the death will ease a few creases on Kohli’s forehead, going forward. Morris particularly looked in the fabulous form today, as he swung the ball upfront and bowled pinpoint yorkers at the death as well scalping 3 wickets.
CSK slide into deeper trouble with this loss. There appears to be darkness at the end of the tunnel for them now. However, if you trust somebody to come up with a flash of light from nowhere, it will be MS Dhoni. It is only better for the competitive spirit of the tournament, that CSK keep their playoff hopes alive as long as possible.