Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) completed a comfortable eight-wicket victory against Rajasthan Royals (RR) to move to the top of the table.
After a solid bowling performance, Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli made sure that there were no hiccups as they put RCB in complete control of the run-chase with a fine 99-run partnership for the second wicket.
Padikkal’s form has been one of the highlights of the season for RCB so far. The 20-year-old hadn’t played an Indian Premier League (IPL) game before this season, but seeing him bat, it seems like he’s played at this level for a while.
Despite Shreyas Gopal getting the wicket of Aaron Finch during the Powerplay, Padikkal didn’t slow down and continued to bat aggressively. He notched up his third half-century in just four innings. Before Padikkal, no batsman had made three 50+ scores in a team’s first four matches in an IPL season.
Kohli, meanwhile, had been far from his best in his first three innings of the season. He took his time to get set, and once he did, he didn’t look back. The RCB skipper went on to bring up his first T20 fifty of the year and was unbeaten on 72 at the end of the game.
The Royal Challengers team management and their fans will be delighted with the fact that Padikkal, Finch, Kohli and AB de Villiers have all made 50+ scores in this year’s IPL already.
For Rajasthan, Jofra Archer was impressive, taking one wicket and conceding only 18 runs in his four overs.
Earlier, the Royals had won the toss and had opted to bat first. They made one change to their team, with Mahipal Lomror replacing Ankit Rajpoot and that proved to be a fruitful decision. Lomror, playing in just his fifth match in the IPL, played a handy knock to help RR to a respectable total after a torrid start.
It was the third over of Rajasthan’s innings when things got interesting. Initially, Jos Buttler took charge, hitting 10 runs off the first two deliveries before Isuru Udana came back superbly to get the wicket of Steven Smith, who was bowled via an inside edge.
Navdeep Saini, who was impressive in RCB's win against Mumbai Indians, then got the big wicket of Buttler. Off his first delivery, he managed to induce an outside edge from the England wicketkeeper-batsman, following which Padikkal took a brilliant diving catch in the slip cordon.
Yuzvendra Chahal followed suit as he came into the bowling attack and also took a wicket with his first ball. It was in-form batsman Sanju Samson who found himself caught-and-bowled. There was a long check to examine if the ball had touched the ground, but with no clear evidence, the third umpire went with the on-field soft signal which was out.
At the end of the Powerplay, RR found themselves 38/3 with their top three batsmen back in the pavilion.
After that, Robin Uthappa and Lomror did a decent job of rebuilding the Royals innings. But just as they looked to accelerate, Chahal came back for his second spell and dismissed Uthappa for 17.
Lomror, meanwhile, impressed – hitting one four and three sixes before getting dismissed just three runs short of a maiden IPL fifty. This will come as an encouraging knock for the Royals as they have had problems with their middle-order batting so far this season.
The Royal Challengers have had concerns with their death-overs bowling for a while now and, on this occasion, they conceded 55 runs in the last five overs. While they would like to improve further, it was an improvement from their previous two matches.
Rahul Tewatia and Archer did well towards the end of the innings as they put on an unbeaten 40-run partnership from just 20 deliveries.
The star of the show for RCB was once again Chahal, who bowled magnificently, taking three wickets. It was no surprise to see him named as the Player of the Match, his second such award this season in four matches.
Pacers Udana and Saini were also among the wickets, securing two and one dismissal(s) respectively.
Both teams have now played four matches each this season, with RCB having secured wins in three of their games. On the other hand, the Royals – after beginning the season with two wins – have lost two matches in a row which will be a worry for the Smith-led team.
(Image Courtesy - BCCI)