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IPL 2021: RAHUL AND HARPREET SMASH RCB

Punjab Kings moved up the points table with a 34-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad.

Harpreet Brar Glenn Maxwell wicket
Harpreet Brar celebrates bowling Glenn Maxwell for 0. (Credit: BCCI)

A far improved Punjab Kings moved up a spot on the IPL 2021 leaderboard to fifth place after drubbing third-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 34 runs in Ahmedabad on Friday.

From the comfortable platform of 99/1 in the 11th over, Punjab were jolted by four wickets in four overs but hit back at in the last three overs to post 179/5 which owed heavily to KL Rahul’s unbeaten 91 from 57 balls in a stand of 61 in 32 deliveries with Harpreet Brar, who later sucked the life out of RCB’s chase with the wickets of Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers.

Chasing 180, RCB never came close. From 62/1 at the half-way mark of their chase, they lost their best three batsman in the span of 13 deliveries to slide towards defeat.

Gayle force gives Punjab some momentum

Into the innings at the fall of Prabhsimran Singh in the fourth over, backing away and slicing Kyle Jamieson to cover, Chris Gayle broke from his personal script and attacked from the start. Gayle’s preferred approach, for several seasons, has been to soak up a few balls – at times too many, some will say – and then look to make up in an over or two. Here, he tore into Jamieson to take 20 runs off the final over of the Powerplay.

Chris Gayle IPL 2021
Chris Gayle hit six fours and two sixes during his entertaining 46. (Credit: BCCI)

All but one ball from Jamieson was spared, as Gayle smashed five fours off the bowler: three over mid-on and two over mid-off with superb timing to take RCB to 49/1 in six overs. On came Yuzvendra Chahal, who was lofted over straight for two sixes to take Gayle to 36 from 13 balls, a strike-rate of 276.92.

Seeing Gayle in flow, Rahul started to open his arms. Harshal Patel was cut to third man, Chahal slashed and slog-swept and Daniel Sams larruped over long-off. Back came Jamieson and first ball he landed it in the slot for Rahul to drive on the rise over extra-cover for six.

Overseas quicks, spinners bring RCB back

Gayle looked on track for another IPL fifty until he gloved a pull shot to a bouncer from Sams to de Villiers for 46 off 24. Nicholas Pooran had a terrific chance to finally make an impact this season, after three ducks for Punjab, when he marked his guard after Gayle’s wicket. But once again, there was disappointment for Punjab fans as Pooran was bounced out by Jamieson.

ALSO READ: WHAT HAS CHANGED WITH RCB?

Eager to get onto the front foot, Pooran was surprised by Jamieson’s bounce and spooned an edge to backward point for his fourth zero in six innings. He now averages 4.66 in IPL 2021, with a strike-rate of 84.84.

Kyle Jamieson RCB wickets
Kyle Jamieson got Nicholas Pooran for his fourth duck of the season. (Credit: BCCI)

The slide continued. Deepak Hooda, in at No 5, ate up nine balls for five runs. Frustrated by getting bogged down, Hooda bent down to slog Shahbaz Ahmed’s left-arm spin for six but didn’t get anywhere near the boundary. Instead, he gave an easy catch to Rajat Patidar running in from deep square leg.

Sensing a moment, Kohli continued with Chahal who struck fourth ball of his final over. Shahrukh Khan, unsure of how to pick Chahal’s googly, fell to another such delivery which he tried to cut, missed, and was bowled for 0. This meant that Punjab had surrendered four wickets in 28 deliveries. After going for 28 from his first two overs, Chahal bowled a terrific second spell of 2-0-6-1.

Rahul and Harpreet surge at the end

Having collected another IPL half-century off 35 balls, Rahul looked on from one end at the carnage unfolding. From the time he drove Jamieson for six first ball of the 12th over, Rahul scored 18 off 16 balls until he next found the boundary when he pulled Harshal for four to end an expensive 18th over. That shot took Rahul to 71 off 51 balls, and with two overs to go it was expected that a batsman of his pedigree get the score towards 175.

With help from the new man in for this match, allrounder Harpreet, Rahul was able to do just that. After Harshal was taken for 18 runs, with Harpreet going over mid-off and deep midwicket with great timing, Mohammed Siraj nailed his yorkers superbly to allow just seven from the penultimate over from which Rahul scored five off two balls faced, slashing the last one off a thick edge well away from de Villiers.

KL Rahul IPL 2021 runs
KL Rahul batted 20 overs for an unbeaten 91 from 57 balls. (Credit: BCCI)

Kohli tasked Harshal to bowl the final over, but for the second time this season the bowler failed to close out an innings. Searching for his yorkers, Harshal over-pitched to the level of being predictable and Rahul flicked him for four and paddled him for six. When the bowler did hit the yorker length, so good was Rahul that even that was scooped over de Villiers for four. The last ball was whipped off the stumps for six by Harpreet (25* off 17) and gave Punjab 179/5 in 20 overs.

Did Kohli miscalculate Siraj’s overs?

As good as Purple Cap holder Harshal has been in most of RCB’s games this season, the most improved bowler at the death has been Siraj. A new bowler after his success in Tests with India, Siraj has overall been very effective at the back end of innings with his accuracy, which has given Harshal the wickets.

Which is why it was odd to see Siraj bowl just three overs in Punjab’s innings. In those three overs, he conceded 24 runs. In his four, Harshal went for 53 of which 40 came in the last 12 balls he bowled. Yes, Kohli’s go-to bowler in such situations has been Harshal, but with Rahul looking so ominous there was reason to back Siraj (especially remembering how Ravindra Jadeja smashed Harshal for 37 runs in the 20th over last week). There was also Jamieson, who around that one expensive over to Gayle took two wickets for 12 runs in 12 balls).

Kohli and Patidar’s slow-going hurts RCB

The wicket of Devdutt Padikkal, bowled by comeback man Riley Meredith in the third over, was followed by a stand of 43 between Kohli and Patidar that spanned 46 deliveries. Given the target, it was a strange alliance.

Patidar, a batsman heralded by Kohli as a very good player of spin, was rendered nearly strokeless against Harpreet and Ravi Bishnoi and pottered his way to 15 from 21 balls by the end of 10 overs.

Virat Kohli Rajat Patidar
Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar struggled to score runs. (Credit: BCCI)

Kohli’s poor season continued with another muddled innings in which he could dominate only sporadically and was troubled by spin once again. A couple times he used his feet superbly to hit down the ground, but overall this was a subdued and off-colour Kohli. Bishnoi’s quick legbreaks and googlies and Harpreet’s flat left-arm spin kept Kohli quiet, and all the while the required run rate kept soaring.

Harpreet takes out RCB’s big three

With RCB’s asking rate nearing 12 an over, the wickets of Kohli and Glenn Maxwell off successive deliveries put the contest almost out of doubt. Immediately after putting Kohli out of his misery on 35 off 34 balls with a ball that stayed a bit low and beat the batsman’s bat when he skipped out, Harpreet bowled Maxwell with one that landed on middle stump and hit the top of off. A stunned Maxwell hung around while the umpire checked whether the ball hit the bails or wicketkeeper Prabhsimran’s gloves dislodged them, but it was not long before he was sent on his way.

Harpreet Brar Punjab Kings
Harpreet Brar took three massive wickets in his economical four overs. (Credit: BCCI)

That brought to the crease the only man capable of keeping RCB alive, de Villiers. But it was Harpreet’s night to shine, and he added a third when de Villiers drove the first ball of his final over straight into extra-cover’s lap. The left-arm spinner’s figures read 4-1-19-3.

Not long after, Harpreet added to his memorable night by holding a catch just inside the deep midwicket boundary as RCB slumped to 96/6. A seventh-wicket stand of 48 in 27 balls between Harshal (31 off 13) and Jamieson (16 off 11) took Punjab to the end of their 20 overs, saving them further jolts.

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