Royal Challengers Bangalore 174 for 6 (Kohli 50, Marsh 2-18, Kuldeep 2-23) beat Delhi Capitals 151 for 9 (Pandey 50, Vyshak 3-20, Siraj 2-23) by 23 runs
Royal Challengers Bangalore spent a large part of this game under the pump. Frustratingly, every time they thought they got ahead, like when Virat Kohli reached a 33-ball fifty, or when Glenn Maxwell was pummelling the spinners on a spin-friendly pitch, a wicket would fall to douse the momentum. Winning a game like this – a game where their crowd spent the first innings largely silent – will do wonders for their campaign because they clawed their way back. And because their star turns came with the ball.
Mohammed Siraj (4-0-23-2) was phenomenal in conditions that should have cancelled him. Their debutant Vijaykumar Vyshak was the most successful bowler on the night, with three wickets including that of an IPL legend, David Warner. Their fielding was electric, a direct hit run-out from Anuj Rawat setting the tone for the fightback. The only Delhi Capitals batters who managed to resist were Manish Pandey (50 off 38) and Axar Patel (21 off 14).
Towards the end of the game, it became clear that the pitch had got better for batting under lights. This is the reason why Capitals, having won the toss, chose to bowl in the first place. But their calamitous start to a chase of 175 – 2 for 3 in three overs and then 30 for 4 with Warner dismissed – just didn’t allow them to take advantage.
Spin > Pace
A slow pitch and the spinners targeting the stumps together meant it was hard for RCB to hit them off the 30-yard circle. Axar and Lalit Yadav bowled three overs in the powerplay for eight dots and just 16 runs.
When there’s no pace coming on to the bat, and you also don’t have room to free the arms, it’s really hard to get power into your shots. That’s why Faf du Plessis felt compelled to go extra hard on the quicks and lost his wicket in the fifth over to Mitchell Marsh.
RCB hit seven boundaries in the first six overs. Only one of them came off spin. Even for the rest, they often had to charge out of their crease – creating pace for themselves – to get the most bang for their buck.
Kohli on song
A 33-ball fifty on this pitch was an excellent effort, but also typical Kohli. He knew that 1) this wasn’t a 200 pitch so he could bat at his own pace, and 2) the team would almost certainly benefit if he dropped anchor and played out the whole innings. And 3) he is a monster at the death, striking as well as Andre Russell or MS Dhoni in the last four overs.
Things were going smoothly enough. He had just played not one but two shots of the match. A stand-still and bottom-hand drill down the ground turning an almost yorker from Mustafizur Rahman into a boundary. And then another stand-perfectly-still and bottom-hand whip to a back of a length ball on his hips for six. The wristwork on that shot to get it so far was just incredible.
But then came Lalit Yadav with a massive full toss. It had to be put away. It was begging to be put away. And Kohli went for it, the only mistake he made was dragging it to the leg side, towards the 70-metre part of the ground. He was caught right on the edge of the rope. If he had gone straight, to the 60-metre boundary, it would’ve been six.
Maxwell’s little gem
Prior to this game, among batters with at least 500 runs against spin, Maxwell had the highest strike rate (164) and the best balls-per-boundary ratio (4.6) in the IPL. He lived up to that billing, smashing 20 runs off eight balls against the slower bowlers, and that contribution proved crucial. RCB fell from 117 for 2 to 132 for 6. But they still reached 174 because their spin hitter produced a cameo that allowed their unheralded Indian batters to just play out the overs. The impact sub, Rawat, made only 15 off 26 despite coming in as late as the last five overs and yet it didn’t matter.
They were 3 for 2 in the third over. They took 23 balls to hit the first boundary.
The first innings was all about fast bowlers being dispatched. Mustafizur, for example, gave up one-third of the total boundaries that RCB hit (7 off 21). They were the ones providing release to under-pressure batters.
But RCB’s new-ball attack decided to change all that. Siraj found ways to use even these conditions to his advantage, hitting the deck hard, at high pace and generating movement with his wobble seam variation.
Capitals were suddenly under siege against the very type of bowling they thought they’d hit around the park. Yash Dhull certainly thought that when he tried to hit Siraj on the up and over the top, but the problem was, he swung his bat too far inside the line of the ball and was plumb lbw. That wasn’t so much a wicket as an exhibition of the gulf in class between bowler and batter.
Vyshak on IPL debut had a great game. RCB’s batters had told their bowlers that digging balls into the wicket was causing problems and he did that all night long.
Take his first wicket. It was a slower ball banged into the surface. That length makes you pull on instinct. You know you need to delay their shots on this slow pitch. But that length just over-rides everything. Warner was into the pull too early. Toe end of the bat. Caught at midwicket.
That at least was the conditions working against them. Prithvi Shaw, Capitals’ impact sub, which means he didn’t field at all, started by refusing a two that was on, then got run out showing zero urgency to get to the crease. Rawat produced a moment of magic at short extra cover, diving to his right, picking the ball up one-handed and nailing a throw with only one stump to look at. But Shaw just didn’t budget for the fact that his shot could be stopped. He was lazy getting into the run, then didn’t even try to dive when it was clear he was in trouble. His IPL reads 12, 7, 0, 15, 0.
That wicket set the tone as Capitals crumbled to their fifth loss in five games this season.