Royal Challengers Bangalore 163 for 5 (Padikkal 56, de Villiers 51, Natarajan 1-34) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 153 all out (Bairstow 61, Pandey 34, Chahal 3-18) by 10 runs
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s inexperienced middle order hurt them big time as they collapsed spectacularly from 121 for 2 in a chase of just 164, giving Royal Challengers Bangalore a winning start to their campaign. The knowledge of such a flaky batting order will leave a big question mark against the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow, trying to hit a six in the last over of Yuzvendra Chahal, the only bowler he hadn’t got on top off. They needed just 43 off 29 at that point. ESPNcricinfo’s Forecaster gave them a 76% chance of winning; any other team would have been 82% favourites but this adjustment by the tool told us what followed was not reliable.
A panic-stricken collapse followed: it involved a ramp into the helmet onto the stumps, a mid-pitch collision between the two batsmen, a Navdeep Saini coup de grace and 8 for 32 in 27 balls. Royal Challengers needed all that after they had wasted a quick start themselves to end up with what a below-par total against a stronger batting unit.
Padikkal announces himself
To average over 30 and strike at over 150 is the gold standard of T20 cricket. Karnataka’s Devdutt Padikkal came with 64 and 176 but only over 12 games. He also came with a rare record of scores of 50 or above in all his debuts: first-class, List A and T20. He got a fifty on IPL debut too, and showed glimpses of what gives him those striking numbers. He left the first ball alone, gave himself four balls of quiet, and then got stuck into Sandeep Sharma. He made good use of lack of pace in the Sunirsers attack and the pace restrictions to race away to 34 off 22 in the first five overs, taking Royal Challengers to 48 for 0 in those overs.
The slowdown, part I
At the other end, Aaron Finch struggled to get going against the predominant inswing in the first few overs. Despite two free hits, he got 10 off 10. Towards the end of the powerplay, Padikkal joined in on the slowdown. To start off with, Sandeep Sharma bowled a quality sixth over, conceding just five. The four and a six off Rashid Khan’s second over were the only boundaries they could hit after those free hits in the fifth over. When Padikkal tried, he offered two chances in the deep, both of which were dropped.
Eventually he fell to the returning Vijay Shankar immediately followed by a plumb lbw for Aaron Finch to the left-arm spin of Abhishek Sharma. Last 37 balls: 42 runs, two wickets. Royal Challengers 90 for 2 after 11.1 overs.
The slowdown, part II
The double strike brought together two of Royal Challengers’ best: Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. The two batted together for 28 balls for just 33 runs and just two boundary attempts. Twelve of these 28 balls were bowled by Rashid. So it could be argued the two didn’t want to take chance against him just after they had lost two wickets in a hurry. However, they also allowed the Sharmas, Abhishek and Sandeep, to get through their overs. When they took on the left-arm seam of T Natarajan, Kohli holed out to a slower ball, his only boundary attempt of the night. Royal Challengers 123 for 3 after 15.5, just 75 off their last 65 balls.
De Villiers gives RCB a total to bowl to
De Villiers went on to show his class as he converted his start of 14 off 13 into an eventual 30-ball 51. Along the way he hit his 200th six in the IPL, and took his overall T20 sixes tally to 399. Yet, at the other end, the promoted Shivam Dube went at a run a ball, which meant Sunrisers controlled the damage de Villiers caused. The last four overs got them 39, giving them a total only six in excess of what Delhi Capitals posted after a disastrous start at the same venue the previous night.
Bairstow keeps Sunrisers ahead
Even after running David Warner out in a freakish manner via a deflection off the bowler Umesh Yadav’s hand, Bairstow looked in sparkling form. He tucked into some Yadav freebies to keep Sunrisers ahead of the asking rate despite a run-a-ball effort from Manish Pandey at the other end. Pandey kept trying to hit, which brought about his dismissal off the bowling of Chahal. However, Bairstow made up for it with another Yadav over in which he was dropped – his second life – and took 14 runs. Dale Steyn’s comeback brought 13 runs, and now the Forecaster brought down the difference between historical probability and winning chances for Sunrisers in this game to 6% from 10%. There were signs Sunrisers were getting close enough for the inexperience of the middle order to not matter.
Chahal gets Bairstow, and then it goes bust
You would have thought Bairstow wouldn’t take a risk off Chahal’s last over, especially with their allrounder Mitchell Marsh injured and unlikely to bat. He had not gone for a boundary yet, and the asking rate was under control. He played the first ball watchfully, but then went for a slog and missed altogether. The flood gates then opened.
A perfect wrong’un followed to send back Vijay Shankar first up. India’s Under-19 captain Priyam Garg then chose the slowest bowler on the park, Shivam Dube, to play a ramp off. He was bowled for 12 off 13 after having tried all sorts of shots.
Abhishek and Rashid made bright starts to their knocks with early boundaries to calm some nerves down, but then got involved in a horrible mid-pitch collision. This resulted in the run-out of Abhishek, and a possible concussion for Rashid. There has been precedent of teams not claiming such run-outs, but Royal Challengers were not in the mood for any such spirit of cricket. None was asked for by Sunrisers.
Saini’s finishing touch
Saini brought Sunrisers back with five wides in his last over, bringing the equation down to 24 off 17, but his pace was too much for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and a shaken Rashid. That was all over.
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