Tonight’s clash was the battle between the titans of Indian cricket. One is the Captain of the present Indian cricket team and the other is perhaps” The Best Captain” India will never have. It was a fight between the work ethic of Virat Kohli vs the languid brilliance of Rohit Sharma.
Rohit won the toss and chose to send RCB to bat first. Finch and Paddikal came out to bat on what appeared to be a beauty of a batting surface. The fact, that RCB had a left-right combination opening the batting for the team ensured that they could take advantage of the disproportionately short square boundary, on one side of the ground.
Paddikal showed glimpses of his genius in the first game. In his second game, he succumbed to the pressure of a tall chase. However, this game, he showed maturity much beyond his age. Finch started striking the ball crisply from ball 1, tonight. Paddikal realized that the momentum was with his partner and started playing second fiddle to him trying to turn the strike over to the burly Australian.
The introduction of Finch has done something excellent to the RCB line up. Finch and Paddikal have ensured that RCB batting now depends on the top 4, rather than just AB De Villiers and Kohli. The opening pair took the team score to a solid 60 for no loss at the end of the powerplay overs. Finch completed his half-century soon after the powerplay and the Australian limited-overs skipper looked in beautiful touch against the likes of Boult, Pattinson, and Bumrah.
Just when it looked like Rohit was running out of ideas, Boult provided a breakthrough as Finch tried to take on the longer square boundary, against the wind. However, by then Finch had done the work he was sent out to do. Kohli came in, with young Paddikal at the other end, looking to up the ante. Rohit immediately took pace off the ball with the introduction of Rahul Chahar. Kohli struggled with his timing, as his wristy whips started connecting thin air instead of the ball.
After a painful stay at the wicket, Kohli was dismissed off a beautiful leg spinner by Chahar, that stuck on the surface. Ironically enough Rohit, the mastermind behind Kohli’s wicket took the catch to dismiss the King. This is where Paddikal’s maturity came to the fore. Paddikal, having played second fiddle to Finch at the beginning of the innings, started taking the attack to the opposition, after Kohli’s dismissal.
While Padikkal’s pyrotechnics allowed RCB to keep the momentum going in their favor it gave De Villiers a much needed period of 8-10 balls to settle down in the crease. Paddikal despatched the likes of Bumrah both square of the wicket, as well as straight down the pitch with the utmost ease. These are initial indications that maybe we are looking at the beginning of a legendary career, this IPL.
After De Villiers got set at the wicket, it was the legend at his very best. Moving around the crease, he disrupted the line and length of the bowler, as he has done all his career. Bumrah, Pattinson, and Boult were taken to the cleaners and the quintessentially talented South African showed that his game has not deteriorated one bit, even though he has retired from international cricket.
RCB has given a very suitable role to ABD as well. Coming in at No. 4 after a solid top 3, he would be rarely required to build an inning, which may be difficult for him because of his lack of touch with international cricket. He is, however, still good enough to go hammer and tonks from the first ball and play the role of an excellent finisher for RCB, as he had done twice in 3 matches.
De Villiers finished with 55 off 24 balls and Shivam Dube came out in the last 2 overs to strike a few lusty blows to take the RCB total to a mammoth 201.
MI began their innings on a sedate note. Much like his counterpart, Rohit did not trouble the scorers and was dismissed early by Washington Sundar. A few balls later Suryakumar Yadav lost his wicket to an away-angler from Udana and hence, MI was staring down the barrel after the powerplay.
Washington Sundar, who has been used by RCB in the middle overs till now, was brought back to bowl in the powerplay overs and he yielded immediate success. Udana was good with his left arm angle as well, but the best bowler for RCB by far in the tournament has to be Chahal. He is the only bower in the line up who looks like picking up a wicket, every time Virat hands him the ball. He did not disappoint this time as well, as he accounted for the dangerous QDK early on in his spell.
Tonight, RCB had an additional bowling option in the form of Zampa. Zampa has had his fair share of contests with Hardik in the past in India Australia matches. This time they were facing off in the IPL. Though Hardik smashed the Australian for a Six, the latter managed to come back and scalp Pandya’s wicket, caught at deep mid-wicket.
MI was down and out when Pandya was dismissed as they were 78 for 4 at the end of 11 overs. MI needed 124 from 9 overs at a required run rate of above 13. That is exactly when Ishan Kishan joined the party. I must say this is the cleanest, I have seen a batsman hit a cricket ball in the last few years. Ishan Kishan looks to have worked a lot on his game. The last time he played for MI, he was a pinch hitter and his head would go all over the place while trying to hit a six. However, this was a revamped Kishan tonight, who came out to replace the burly Saurabh Tiwary.
The sheer disdain with which he dismissed the likes of Navdeep Saini, Adam Zampa, and Chahal were truly amazing. The hits over cow corner had always been Kishan’s strong point, however, this time it was the straight hits off Chahal and Zampa that showed that he had come back this IPL as a more complete player. He was ably supported by Pollard, who unfurled his series of own straight hits, to take the MI total near the target.
MI scored 79 off the last 4 overs and had Jishan timed the 2nd last delivery of the bowler a bit better, the match would have been over then and there. Kishan unfortunately missed his century by a solitary run and Pollard’s boundary off the last ball ensured that the match between the two bigshots were tied.
In the super over, it was the Navdeep Saini show, who nailed his slower balls and yorkers to excellent effect to restrict MI to just 7 off his 6 balls. Virat and De Villiers wiped off the target with ease, despite Bumrah, being extremely consistent in the death overs.
I have not spoken about RCB team selection till now, because it has been horrendous as usual. Kohli and De Villiers bailed them out of trouble tonight, but Kohli, the leader has to make better decisions if he harbors dreams of winning the IPL. There is just no sense behind playing Zampa tonight. Steyn was doing an excellent job in the powerplay and Udana would have been his ideal compatriot at the death alongside Saini. The absence of Steyn meant that Udan had to bowl in the powerplay as well, leaving him with just one over at the death. I hope RCB get their team combination right next match because they held on to this match by the skin of their teeth.