Royal Challengers Bangalore 189 for 9 (Maxwell 77, du Plessis 62, Boult 2-41, Sandeep 2-49) beat Rajasthan Royals 182 for 6 (Padikkal 52, Jaiswal 47, Jurel 34*, Harshal 3-32) by seven runs
Royal Challengers Bangalore overcame a 50-for-7 collapse at the end of their innings and defended a total for the third time in IPL 2023 to go level on points with table leaders Rajasthan Royals and Lucknow Super Giants.
It was a weird match with arhythmic twists and turns. However, the centrepiece of RCB’s win was a lightning 127-run partnership between Glenn Maxwell and Faf du Plessis in just 11.1 overs after they came together at 12 for 2, which perhaps made the pitch look easier than it was.
The pitch itself was an enigma. RCB were in doubt that it was a dry pitch that would slow down and wanted to bat first, and Royals wanted to chase. Even though they were bowling first, Royals didn’t name a single batter in their substitutes’ list, and continued to not use Jason Holder’s batting. RCB continued to benefit from the Impact Player rule as they managed to play two players who wouldn’t have featured but for the rule: du Plessis with his rib issue, and Harshal Patel with a finger injury that made batting difficult for him. Eventually both made crucial contributions.
Boult strikes like lightning
With five first-over wickets to his name this season already, Trent Boult’s starts have become unmissable. This one was as good as any: full inswinger, past Virat Kohli’s inside edge, plumb lbw first ball. With the first ball of his second over, Boult had Shahbaz Ahmed caught at short midwicket. Some even joked that RCB’s last batting pair was at the wicket when Maxwell walked out.
Maxwell, du Plessis put on a show
If it was the last pair, they were not going to hold back. Maxwell square-drove the first ball he faced for four, and repeated the same shot for the same result in the same over. Du Plessis got stuck into Sandeep Sharma, hitting two sixes and a four in the fourth over. Maxwell kept manipulating the field, and lofted R Ashwin for a six to make it 62 for 2 at the end of the powerplay.
Unlike the typical RCB innings, there was no slowdown immediately after the powerplay. Maxwell reverse-swept Yuzvendra Chahal in his first over for a six, and two overs later he and du Plessis took 16 off a Jason Holder over.
While du Plessis kept going down the ground, Maxwell mixed both straight hits and innovative ones behind square.
Neither of the batters looked like getting out even when going at such high strike-rate, and eventually it had to be a run-out to send du Plessis back. A slight slowdown ensued, and Maxwell found backward point with a reverse-sweep to the last ball of R Ashwin’s quota.
With both danger men gone, Royals snuck back into the match. The wily Chahal bowled the 17th and the 19th overs for just 11 runs and the wicket of Mahipal Lomror. Suddenly the pitch began to look like aiding slower balls again, and RCB huffed and puffed to 189.
Jaiswal, Padikkal fuel the chase
After an incutter from Mohammed Siraj bowled Jos Buttler for his second duck this IPL, Padikkal and Jaiswal set the chase up beautifully. Like Chahal and Shivam Dube before him, Jaiswal, too, made a big contribution against the team that had released him, RCB. Padikkal and Jaiswal managed to hit at least one boundary an over from overs 2 through 10. It left Royals needing 98 off the last 10. In the over after that, Padikkal brought up his fifty.
The Hasaranga-Willey slowdown
If it was the death overs during which the RCB slide began, Wanindu Hasaranga and David Willey started it around the 11th over for Royals. Hasaranga conceded just five in the 11th. Three more deliveries went without a boundary in the 12th, and Padikkal became the first one to hole out, off Willey.
Sanju Samson was watchful against Hasaranga, who enjoys a great match-up against him, in the 13th. Jaiswal, who tends to struggle once the field spreads, holed out off Harshal in the 14th having scored seven off the last 10 balls he faced.
The equation was still within touch especially with Samson and Shimron Hetmyer still there. Samson managed to get the better of Hasaranga in the 15th but just like Maxwell’s dissmisal earlier in the day, a well-timed late cut found short third in the 16th.
Royals needed 65 off 28 then, which is not unheard of, but Hetmyer got stuck, failing to connect cleanly with even a single shot. Mohammed Siraj later said the ball was reversing in the end, which might explain Hetmyer failing to hit even one of the nine balls he faced cleanly.
It was Dhruv Jorel who kept RR alive with 34 off 16, but he didn’t assume the leadership role in the partnership with Ashwin. Off the last ball of the 19th over, he took a suicidal second, which handed the strike over to Ashwin for the last over.
Ashwin got lucky with two boundaries in the last over, but with 10 required off the last three, he too holed out to a slower ball. RR still didn’t send out Holder, who has faced only two balls in this IPL, and there was too much left for debutant Abdul Basith to do.