Rajasthan Royals in 177/6 20 overs (Steve Smith 57, Robin Uthappa 41; Chris Morris 4-0-26-4) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 179/3 in 19.4 overs (AB de Villiers 55*, Virat Kohli 43) by 7 wickets
Rajasthan pulled off some surprises with their batting order, and some of it worked and some didn’t. Robin Uthappa was back as an opener, but it was Jos Buttler and not Ben Stokes who had to drop down the order. Uthappa gave the blazing start that Rajasthan has found lacking recently, even making up for Stokes’ scratchy knock at the other end. That onslaught was quickly put to a halt when the Royals lost three wickets in quick succession, including Uthappa and Sanju Samson off consecutive deliveries. Samson showed exactly why he is not in the reckoning for India, getting out for an absolutely needless shot one ball after Uthappa’s dismissal. Steve Smith and Buttler steadied the ship in the middle overs, before Smith let loose with some help from Rahul Tewatia to post a challenging total for Bangalore to chase.
In response, RR used Shreyas Gopal, their spin weapon from Karnataka, right from the beginning and it paid dividends in the form Aaron Finch’s wicket. Virat Kohli joined Devdutt Padikkal at the crease and steadied the ship, a bit too much perhaps. Kohli did manage to get in a couple of sixes to up his strike rate, but young Padikkal fell before he could do so. Tewatia dismissed Padikkal on the last ball of his over, and the very next ball he took a boundary line catch off Kartik Tyagi to send Kohli back to the dugout. Tyagi conceded just two in that over, and it was Rajasthan’s game to lose with six overs to go. RCB brought It down 35 off the last 12 balls, with 6 of them delivered by Archer’s magical arm. But in the end it was de Villiers, de Villiers, and de Villiers – Three sixes off the first three balls of the penultimate over, and another one in the 20th to finish the game.
MAN OF THE MATCH
AB de Villiers
To take four wickets in a T20 is not a common sight, and in most cases the said player would be adjudged the Man of the Match but even Chris Morris will have no complaints about this one. With ABD seemingly still in his prime, and Faf du Plessis undergoing a resurgence at CSK, not to mention the likes of Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, the aforementioned Morris, Anrich Nortje, the South Africans have left their mark on this edition of the IPL. To go along with the Rahul Dravid’s wall tribute at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, and the Anil Kumble circle not too far away, no local will complain if de Villiers has something named after him in the stadium someday.
The 19th over dilemma. The most common tactic one sees in T20 cricket is giving the penultimate over to your best bowler, to ensure that whoever is given the 20th has enough runs to defend. Rajasthan switched that around, and it might have cost the game. Might only because de Villiers would have taken them home regardless. Smith had his reasons, and it was an understandable decision that just failed to come off. Unadkat had the better economy rate going into the last couple of overs, and him bowling slower ones into the batsman, meant that the batsman had to go over the longer side of the boundary. The one mistake that Smith made in his calculations? No boundary is too big for de Villiers.
WHO DO THEY PLAY NEXT
Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals on October 19th (Monday) at Abu Dhabi
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore on October 21st (Wednesday) at Abu Dhabi