That dreaded losing streak in an IPL season is unfortunately here, with Rajasthan Royals three consecutive defeats down at the moment, after a seven-wicket defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Dubai.
Sanju Samson’s side were 5th in the points table before resumption of IPL 2021 earlier this month, but we’ve now slipped down two positions since and are placed 7th above just Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Having won the toss, RCB captain Virat Kohli opted to bowl first at the Dubai International stadium. The pitch that was used for this match was a new one with even grass on it, resulting in the ball bouncing a bit more than usual. However, that didn’t come in the way of our openers, who got going after a more circumspect first two overs.
Kohli summoned spin with Glenn Maxwell coming in for the third over, and we began creating much-needed momentum with both batsmen taking advantage. Yashasvi’s maximum travelled 96m into the stands, leading to a change of ball, and the excitement of Royals fans could be felt in the Dubai air. Lewis went big from the other end, smashing Garton for 18 runs with some monstrous hits.
The openers then took us to a commanding 56/0 after six overs, our third highest Powerplay score this season, and accelerated the run rate along the way until our first hiccup. Dan Christian provided RCB the breakthrough, with Yashasvi departing for 31(22) leaving us on 77/1.
Lewis was still on the charge and kept up the momentum with Sanju, who looked to be in fine touch again. The West Indian brought up his maiden Royals fifty in the 10th over, and the duo took us to 100/1 after just 11 overs. That’s about as good as it got for us all night, as our performance unraveled from that moment on.
Lewis was the first to depart, in the 12th over, and by the end of the 14th, we had already lost Mahipal, Sanju and Tewatia – all three of them succumbing while trying to play a big shot. It felt like it could be best buds Liam & Riyan’s day, but nobody could find their stride, apart from Morris who chipped in with a couple of boundaries.
In those last 9 overs, we lost 8 wickets for only 49 runs, after once looking well set for a total close to 200. RCB’s spinners, Chahal and Ahmed, did the kind of damage to our top order which we never recovered from, and their pacers capitalised during the death overs.
Knowing that the total wasn’t a winning one in Dubai, where the average innings total was 161, we moved on in the battle desperately needing a top bowling performance, but it never truly came despite some good efforts.
Kohli and Paddikal started well, bringing haunting flashbacks of our earlier clash this season where the two chased down 178 without losing a wicket. The paid had nearly notched up a 50-run stand, before a super delivery from Mustafizur Rahman cleaned up Paddikal. The next over Riyan Parag had his moment, with a stunning fielding effort and direct hit, finding his idol Kohli short of his crease.
Our new found hope didn’t last long though, as Srikar Bharat (44 off 35) and Maxwell took over with an important partnership. The duo kept the scoreboard ticking and also found the odd boundary, cruising through the chase. We finally got Bharat at the end of the 16th over through that man Mustafizur again, but at that stage RCB required only 23 off the last 24 balls. And it all evaporated soon after, as Maxwell smashed Morris for 3 fours and a six in a 22-run over to level the scores. AB de Villiers hit the winning runs, with one required off the final 18, with a boundary off Riyan Parag to severely dent any playoffs qualification hopes for us.
Sanju at his post-match interview mentioned that the team will keep fighting in our remaining three games, almost playing with nothing to lose. Hopefully that takes the pressure off the players, and they can enjoy the last three matches and truly express themselves. That’s been our biggest frustration, that we have the talent but haven’t performed well enough throughout the course of a match. Next up it’s CSK in Abu Dhabi – hopefully we get back to winning ways!