If Bumrah’s yorker to get rid of Shikhar Dhawan started the landslide for DC in the first qualifier, Natarajan’s yorker to AB de Villiers shut the door on RCB’s chances to make it to the second qualifier.
Eliminator – Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, Abu Dhabi, 6th Nov 2020
Brief scores: RCB 131/7, AB de Villiers 56, Jason Holder 3/25 lost to SRH 132/4, Kane Williamson 50*, M Siraj 2/28 by 6 wickets
Just when RCB seemed to have exorcised the ghosts of their past, the jinn fled the bottle. That the toss didn’t go their way only aggravated their misery. Chris Morris’ non availability not only unsettled their team balance but also left Virat Kohli with a less potent bowling attack, against a resurgent SRH batting line-up. But for a brief while, SRH themselves were visited by the ghost of their game vs KXIP at Dubai which they lost by 12 runs chasing 127. But Kane Williamson and Jason Holder ensured they showed no jitters and took SRH through to the Qualifier no. 2.
Rich resources but scanty rewards
RCB have always been flamboyant buyers at the IPL auctions but have had a short fuse when it comes to backing their acquisitions across seasons. There has been no dearth of talent in their squad but RCB never managed to identify the formula to convert talent into results.
In this year’s IPL though, RCB seemed to have cracked the puzzle and rocketed up the points table to secure a top-four finish in the league stage – despite losing their last four league games. And their fans hoped their war-cry Ee sala cup nammade would finally fructify. Just when RCB needed to hit the next gear and ensure they didn’t slack, the RCB of the old made an appearance. Against an inspired bowling attack, RCB’s batsmen wilted. SRH’s bowlers, to their credit, kept chipping away at the wickets. AB de Villiers was the last hope for RCB to post a decent total but Thangarasu Natarajan produced a dream delivery to get de Villiers and the final flourish never came. If Jasprit Bumrah’s yorker to get rid of Shikhar Dhawan started the landslide for DC in the first qualifier, Natarajan’s yorker to AB de Villiers shut the door on RCB’s chances to make it to the second qualifier.
Exhibition of temperament
If RCB’s fortunes took a downward turn towards the end of the league stage, SRH’s began its climb up. SRH came into this game on the back of three wins, from three games and much of it can be attributed to the team combination they discovered late into the season. Wriddhiman Saha’s inclusion gave David Warner time to settle in. Manish Pandey – the batsman Team India deserves, but never had – was at his usual best, both with the bat and in the field. And this game is proof that the experience of two international captains shepherding the middle order is priceless. In a crunch game, Williamson did for SRH what RCB’s fans have been hoping Kohli would do. After all, if you want a job well done, who better than a Kiwi. With two excellent Indian fast bowlers, Natarajan and Sandeep Sharma, SRH had the luxury to play both Rashid Khan and Jason Holder. With fours wins in a row, SRH are definitely the favourites against DC who have been oscillating between excellence and mediocrity.
Where do RCB go from here?
After a long time, RCB has put in a performance that has been both royal and challenging. Devdutt Padikkal has been a revelation in this edition of IPL and RCB must ensure they back him for seasons to come. And not trade him off to other teams like Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis or Shimron Hetmyer. Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj have shown flashes of brilliance, and if properly mentored, they could be two potent bowling weapons for RCB. Washington Sundar has been excellent in the powerplay, giving RCB the benefit of holding back Yuvzendra Chahal for the middle overs.
On the flip side, this was not enough to make it to the final. There is no one reason to put a finger on for their current predicament as RCB wind up their campaign in IPL 2020. Shot selections of their batmen were questionable. Morris’ injury meant Adam Zampa was given a game.
Could RCB have instead given Isuru Udana that place to bolster their pace attack? Given they already had three international spinners in Chahal, Washington Sundar and Mooen Ali.
Did Kohli err in his filed settings? With the pacers bowling and the required run rate close to 9, third man was stationed inside the ring in both the 18th and 19th overs and both the batsmen took a boundary apiece.
Zooming out of the specifics, RCB seemed too dependent on Kohli and de Villiers coming good. Is the pressure of captaincy and an empty trophy cabinet getting to Kohli, the batsman? If yes, RCB should definitely consider taking the captaincy burden off Kohli – for Kohli the batsman is way more valuable than Kohli the captain. The silver lining for RCB is that unlike CSK or KXIP, they have the core team in place – young and hungry. It only needs a minor rejig and the elusive IPL trophy could be within their grasps.