For critics keeping tabs at the RCB’s match with DD on Thursday night, the focus was set on two Indians. Yuvraj Singh has been more in news for his 140 million rupee price tag than his true playing abilities and likewise, Dinesh Karthik, whom DD bought for 125 million rupees had to pass the acid test. While Yuvraj scraped through, Karthik collected a golden duck and all talks of the DD’s energized new capability got dissolved in the dust.
He knew he was being watched with some extra attention but Yuvraj looked decidedly insecure, when he came in after the fall of Parthiv Patel’s wicket in Bangalore’s innings. Patel filled in for the absent Chris Gayle to the best of abilities, coming down the track and smashing DD seamers at will. He did pretty well even after the early loss of his opening partner Nic Maddinson and Kohli allowed Patel his space by playing second fiddle. The dual responsibility of leading the side and also giving a chase to DD’s 145 made Kohli play with some caution. Absence of Chris Gayle might have been another factor. Kohli continued in the same vein after Yuvraj joined him in the 9th over, after Patel had put on 37 off 28 balls. Yuvraj got a single by default as his push back to the bowler got deflected to long leg. Mohammad Shami’s third ball of DD’s 10th over was a bouncer to Yuvraj, to which he closed his eyes as he took an evasive action. But the ball struck his bat somewhere and ran away to the long leg boundary. Sighs came from Yuvraj’s fans yet again while his critics got more convinced at RCB’s folly of buying him at such an astronomical price.
Such things happen, when a professional sportsman is valued against all expectations. The immediate comparison was drawn with Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, who became the most expensive European footballer ever, a few months ago. In the case of Yuvraj Singh, it was difficult to understand RCB’s decision in spite of the fact that in his last 19 T20 matches for India, Yuvraj had not crossed 50. But luckily for RCB yesterday, Yuvraj came good after some initial circumspection. Yuvraj looked in his old touch when he whacked Rahul Sharma in the 11th over to a flat six. Though he scored just 1 run off the next ball, his smashing shot literally took people’s breath away. But for great fielding efforts by Murali Vijay, the shot could have gone for four. Yuvraj’s second six off Jimmy Neesham in the 14th over was a more confident-looking stroke that landed in the RCB dug-out. For the first time in the innings, there was a smile on Yuvraj’s face. In Rahul Sharma’s 3rd over, the first two balls were hoisted for sixes by Kohli and the fourth by Yuvraj. RCB was chasing 146 and Yuvraj’s 52 off 29 balls with 3 fours and 5 sixes was a great contribution. More importantly, it kept his critics quiet for a while.
Earlier, Virat Kohli had won the toss and sent DD in to bat first. They opened with Murali Vijay and Mayank Agarwal but the batsmen were kept quiet by Albie Morkel and Mitchell Starc. In the third over, Agarwal got out to an indiscreet shot but the worse was to come in the next over from Morkel. Dinesh Karthik, who was leading DD in the absence of the injured Kevin Pietersen, faced the ripper of a ball from Morkel, which straightened out to take a faint edge of Karthik’s bat with Parthiv Patel taking a good catch. With this, IPL’s second most expensive player was on his way back to the DD dug-out. 17/2 at the end of over no. 4 cannot be called a good start in any T20 game. DD kept struggling after the early losses and very soon Manoj Tiwary and Vijay also fell. After 9 overs, DD had reached 40/4 and the new pair of JP Duminy and Ross Taylor was yet to find its rhythm. But to Duminy’s credit it must be said that he didn’t give up despite Taylor remaining a bit subdued. Yuzvendra Chahal bowled very economically and strangled the scoring rate. Regardless, Duminy and Taylor continued their partnership and took DD’s score to 101/4 at the end of 17th over. The two of them launched the attack in death overs and collected 44 runs off the last three to make it 145/4 for DD.
In the end, however, the target of 146 was not insurmountable, as RCB began with a flourish from Parthiv Patel despite losing Maddinson early. Kohli and Yuvraj Singh continued till the end and RCB reached the victory target with 20 balls still remaining. DD was unlucky early on, when Kohli got a life at 19. It was the simplest of catches, which Jimmy Neesham floored. Kohli was dropped again in the same over but this time the chance was more difficult. But such things happen in cricket and fortunes favour those, who are as brave as Virat Kohli.