IPL 2021: RCB finish third after a last-ball win
Bengaluru beat the boys from Delhi on the last ball by seven wickets and even with this win, they finished third in the table.
By Vadiraj Kanakagiri
The finish to this game was worthy of a game between two teams that have qualified. But the cricket in between wasn't. Dropped catches, fielding lapses, mistakes in batting were plenty from both sides throughout the game. In the end, it was Delhi who paid for their mistakes.
After the loss against SRH in the previous game, RCB's hopes of a top-two finish were diminished. Their main aim seemed to patch some holes in the bowling department and give some game time to the out of form batters. Winning the toss, Kohli opted to bowl on a good strip.
Shaw and Dhawan provided a rollicking start to the innings and built a great platform. Both went hard at the bowling and were pretty aggressive matching each other's strike rates. The pair put on 88 in 10 overs, while Kohli played all his cards, but with no success. Delhi looked good for a big one with plenty of firepowers to come.
But RCB's strength with the bowl this season has been their death bowling. Harshal Patel has been the biggest reason for that but one can't forget the emergence of Mohammed Siraj, at the death. Man with the golden arm, Harshal Patel got rid of the less dominant of the two, Shikhar Dhawan, foxing yet another batsman with the slower delivery and made an opening. In the very next over, after getting some treatment from the openers, Chahal got rid of Prithvi Shaw. Skipper Rishab Pant didn't last either as he edged one to the keeper off Dan Christian.
With three wickets in quick succession, RCB were back in the game and some. RCB exploited the fact that there isn't a big hitter in the Delhi lineup, since Stoinis got injured. Although Hetmyer does the job for them, he isn't someone who can clear the ropes consistently. Shreyas Iyer made a run a ball 18 while Hetmyer got a few away at the end and got out on the brilliant last over from Siraj. Harshal Patel has rarely gone for runs this season but leaked 34 in this game. Mo Siraj was the pick of the bowlers, as he troubled the batters with some quick stuff and finished on 25 for 2 off his 4 and Delhi finished on 164.
After a forgettable outing with the bat in the previous game, Devdutt Padikkal wanted to make things better in this game and get back into form before the playoffs. But he seems to be batting with a cluttered mind. Facing his first delivery, he got a short one from Nortje, to which, with his current double-minded nature, looked to duck under but then with a change of decision guided it straight into the hands of Ashwin at third man. A distraught Padikkal walked back to the hut for a golden duck.
His partner and Skipper, Virat too isn't having the easiest of times with the bat. This isn't something we usually associate with Kohli, but he seriously looks out of touch. There isn't any calmness to his batting, he looks fidgety and is nowhere near as confident as prime Virat Kohli. He too fell victim to Nortje, leading-edge one, after closing the bat face early, straight to mid-on.
Another batsman who is completely out of nick for RCB this season, and there are few of them, is AB De Villiers. Hoping to get his mojo back by spending some time in the middle, he strode out to the center at No.4. He took his time. He really did. He didn't even think of hitting the ball hard in the early part of his innings. Okay. He was set now. He was looking to cut loose. But not for long. This seems to be the reality now. His best is probably behind him. He hit a couple of boundaries to make up for his slow start but holed out in the deep, to Axar Patel's short of a length delivery, for a run a ball 26.
Once again, for the umpteenth time in this season, it was all left to Glenn Maxwell, to see his side home. He's doing it so many times, RCB fans would hope he doesn't spend all his runs on these non-important games and would save some for playoffs. But he had a comrade in the name of KS Bharat. The wicket-keeper has been impressive throughout this season but surprisingly was demoted down the order quite a few times. After getting set, both the batters started bludgeoning the bowling all over the park. Maxi was in full mood, as he repeatedly went for his favourite switch hit, and made quite a few runs from it.
Delhi were awful in the field. They really were. In a single over off Axar, Maxwell was dropped twice, one of a skier to deep mid by Shreyas Iyer and another one, a low catch by Ravi Ashwin. In the very next over, Shaw let one go for four. There were quite a few other mistakes like these as well.
Bharat was going well too, at the other end. He was nominating his spots for his boundaries and was running well in between. He seems to grow as the innings progressed. He got to his fifty and looked set to finish the game off along with Maxi. The pair brought the equation down to 19 off two. But an excellent penultimate over from Nortje, who's been nothing but impressive this season, upped the score only by four.
Avesh Khan had 15 runs to defend off the last. Maxi was on strike. He smashed one straight back off the first and got four. They got a brace on the second and a solitary run on the third. RCB needed 9 now to win off 3. Bharat missed a half volley outside off on the fourth, which he would've sent to the boundary 9 out of 10 times. He looked exhausted. The heat and humidity got to him. But he stood strong. He got another couple off the fifth and it was down to six off the last ball.
Avesh was all smiles by this point. He confidently ran in and bowled a wide full toss down leg! And Bharat failed to get bat on it. He ran in again, bowled another full toss, this time at the stumps. Bharat though was shuffling across a little and got surprised by another full one, but somehow gathered all his energy and middled this one into the orbit. Everyone held their breath for a couple of seconds. Everyone stood still. Except for the long-on fielder, Axar Patel, who was running backwards with slight hopelessness and disappointment on his face. The ball had cleared the boundary. Bharat and RCB had pulled off a heist.