IPL2021: RCB enters playoff
If last season was 'heart in the mouth' moments galore when it came to RCB's matches, this season is a complete contrast - As one sided as it can be - both ways.
By Vadiraj Kanakagiri
When Glenn Maxwell was bought by RCB in this year's auction, it seemed like one of those expensive buys that Bengaluru makes every auction, only to release them next year after a massive drop in performance from that player.
But Mike Hesson had put some real thought behind this purchase. In the last few seasons, RCB's had been limited to just two players - Virat and AB. If one of them didn't perform, the game was gone then and there. On days, they won certain games single-handedly, but those numbers were getting slim. No matter how great a player you are, in a team game, you do need support.
That's where Glenn Maxwell fit in perfectly in the RCB batting lineup. It allowed Virat to take the aggressive approach up top, knowing even if he fails, everything isn't left only to AB. And for AB, the pressure is far less now. Even if Virat falls early, all the eyes aren't on him to take the team over the line. There is someone else on whom he can even bank on. And if there is one thing that we all know about AB, or all the South African cricketers for that matter, they don't pressure being put on them. They succumb to it more often than not.
Royal Challengers had no trouble in putting aside a frail Rajasthan team in yesterday's game. After winning the toss, Virat put the opposition in first, knowing their weaker link is their bowling and once they're restricted to a lesser total, it would be a walk in the park. And it was just that. Openers Evin Lewis and Jaiswal gave a rollicking start and put on 77 for the first wicket. Every bowler that Virat brought on got the punishment. With two lefties in, Kohli didn't chance Chahal until one of them was gone. The senior pro, Dan Christian made the breakthrough and sent Jaiswal packing. In form batter, the skipper, Samson came in at 3, who have been consistent this season, which he rarely is.
To capitalise on this consistency, Samson took the cautious approach to his innings and went at run a ball for quite some time. Due to this, once Lewis couldn't find the boundaries that he wanted to, the innings seemed to have reached a sudden halt. Trying to break the shackles, Lewis got out to a short one from Garton, skied it straight to the keeper Bharath, after a well-made 58. Just as Samson was looking good for another big one, after smoking a couple out of the boundary, he too threw his wicket - attempting one shot too many.
After Samson's departure, there was no one, literally no one who tried to give some impetus to this innings. Livingston tried his hand by curbing his six-hitting urge, but couldn't score many that way either. The lower order crumbled like a house of cards, and Rajasthan were folded for 149. Chahal was the pick of the bowlers conceding only 18 in his 4, while Harshal 'purple' Patel continued his dream run with the ball at the death, by picking up a 3 for.
The chase began with the usual over-aggressive approach from Kohli and Padikkal. They managed 48 inside 5 with the help of some crisp strokes before Padikkal was cleaned by the Fizz. Kohli was run out going for a risky run- one too many times, but Parag nailed the direct hit at the nonstriker's end, to find Virat well short of his crease. Then came the Big Show-Glenn Maxwell, at No.4. He with the young wickie Srikhar Bharath dismantled the RR bowling with some magnificent stroke-play. Once the run rate was under control, the duo switched their approach to their innings, and just looked good ones and twos. Once the game was almost sealed in their favour, Bharath top-edged one straight to fine leg and got out.
Chris Morris had a lot to say to KS Bharath while he was out there. Maxwell was having none of that and came in support of his young teammate. Once he did that verbally, he outdid his verbal support with the humiliation of Morris with the bat. He smashes Morris all around the park for a 22 run-over, giving him a gobful in between deliveries. With just 1 to get, AB swept one to deep square for a boundary to finish things off.
Such is the luxury of Maxwell's presence in the batting lineup. It has diluted the pressure off AB and Virat, allowing them to dominate more freely. Hope this continues.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 149/9 in 20 overs (Evin Lewis 58, Yashasvi Jaiswal 31; Harshal Patel 3-34, Y. Chahal 2-18, Shahbaz Ahmed 2-10) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 153/3 in 17.1 overs (Glenn Maxwell 50*, KS Bharat 44; Mustafizur Rahman 2-20) by seven wickets.