Rajasthan Royals couldn’t break Royal Challengers Bangalore’s winning streak, as they were undone by a clinical batting performance by Devdutt Padikkal & Virat Kohli. The Royals mustered all the strength of their lower middle-order, after a shaky start, to put up 177 on the board. However, at the Wankhede, as we know it, even 200 is chasable. The RCB openers were hardly troubled as they hit shots through the line of the ball and picked up boundaries at will. They got home in 16.3 overs to win their fourth game on the trot.
Sanju Samson nearly won the toss yet again. Why nearly? Because the coin went down Kohli’s way, but he backed away, allowing Sanju to go up first and make the call. After an awkward silence, everyone realised that Kohli had won the toss, and he came forward to mention that RCB will bowl. This is the first instance of Rajasthan Royals batting first this season, and Samson was up for the challenge. Shreyas Gopal had come in for Jaydev Unadkat, while RCB brought in Kane Richardson for Rajat Patidar.
Rajasthan Royals’ outing with the bat was a tale of contrasts. The Powerplay, and the first 10 overs didn’t go as planned, but the final 10 overs was very impressive, as the lower-middle order put together a gritty and an aggressive performance.
The Royals lost Buttler & Vohra in quick succession, after both showed some promise in the first couple of overs. You may debate that the openers attempted loose strokes, way too early in their innings. Miller, who was promoted to number 4, got a peach of a yorker from Siraj. RCB had to take the review to get the third wicket. We were reduced to 18/3 and could only secure 32 in the Powerplay.
Some more troubled times followed as skipper, Samson suffered a soft dismissal, as he dabbed the ball to Maxwell in the eighth over. Shivam Dube had a massive responsibility on his shoulders, after having a lean patch so far in the tournament. He went after Chahal straightaway and picked up two sixes to get the run-rate past 6. By the end of the 10th over, we were 70/4.
Dube continued playing steadily and picked up regular boundaries with some deft and smart shots. Riyan Parag, on the other hand played the aggressor’s role and the dup picked up 15 runs off Harshal Patel’s first over. Riyan played a couple more audacious shots off Jamieson & Patel, the latter being an exasperating helicopter shot that scremed away to the mid-wicket fence. However, he was caught at third man off the next delivery, miscuing a ramp.
Tewatia joined Dube and continued where Riyan left off. He stared with a six and four off the same Patel over where he got rid of Parag. At the end of the 15th, Rajasthan Royals had 128 on the board and were looking at a total, close to 180.
Kane Richardson got the better of Dube who looked to launch the ball over long on, but mistimed only to find Maxwell. He went for a very responsible and well-compiled 46. Tewatia and Morris were brought together and had to see the Royals till the end.
They picked up a four and six off the final balls of the 17th and 18th overs, respectively to keep the innings in the hunt for 180. Tewatia then punished Siraj by taking him for 13 runs in the 19th, but fell off the final ball.
RCB got a team hat-trick, as Patel got Morris to ramp one to short fine leg and then foxed Sakariya with a slower one. The beginning of the 20th was perfect for RCB. Shreyas Gopal got the strike after Sakariya fell and hit a wonderful strike over mid-wicket. He finished the innings with a single, as Rajasthan Royals climbed up to 177/9. After the faltering start, they took the counter-attacking route to score over 100 runs in the final 10 overs, putting up a respectable total.
Kohli & Padikkal had a sound start to the Powerplay. Rajasthan Royals employed Shreyas Gopal to go with the new ball – everyone remembers his record against the RCB skipper. Kohli was watchful and played the ball on its merit against Gopal. Padikkal on the other hand played with finesse and picked up a few nonchalant boundaries.
Padikkal seemed to be in perfect touch as he played some big shots with utmost balance. Kohli at the other end, rotated strike in the Powerplay with his younger partner going all guns blazing. RCB romped to 59/0 In the first six.
Tewatia and Parag couldn’t keep the runs from flowing either. In the three overs they bowled together, Padikkal smashed them for two fours and three sixes, taking them for 37 runs. RCB raced past 100 in a canter.
Kohli came into his own in the latter half of the innings, as he found his timing and power. Sakariya and Morris were punished in the 11th and 12th overs, as Kohli got to his half-century off 34 balls. In the process, the RCB skipper became the first batsman to reach 6000 IPL runs. Meanwhile, Padikkal was working his way towards his maiden IPL century.
With Kohli picking up boundaries at will, Padikkal was left with under 20 runs to get to three figures. He hit a streaky boundary to third man off Sakariya in the 16th over. Kohli played out the last ball, and left Padikkal to face the next over. It took one ball for Padikkal to flay it through the covers and get to his 100, one that had some gorgeous strokes. It was the fastest ton by an uncapped player in the IPL. RCB got home when a full toss from Fizz went past Padikkal and Samson to the fence for five wides.
The RCB openers were simply unstoppable as they put together an impregnable partnership to get to their fourth consecutive win this season. While there were positives in the first innings for Rajasthan Royals, in how they resurrected their innings, there is work to be down with the ball in the coming games. We have one more game at the Wankhede and whether we bat first or second, the bowling will have to be much better, in the zone of our performance against DC. The top order has some thinking to do as well, after scoring very little in the first innings. There’s only one way from here – up. We meet another team that hasn’t been winning much of late, Kolkata Knight Riders, in two days at the Wankhede.