Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) let slip a huge opportunity to push for a top-two spot in the table as they were stunned by a spirited Sunrisers Hyderabad side in Abu Dhabi. Kohli called it right at the toss and the RCB bowlers did a laudable job to restrict SRH to 141, but an impassive batting effort from his side saw them lose the match by 4 runs and dent their top-two hopes. For RCB to now finish in the top two, they would have to beat Delhi Capitals by a significant margin and hope for CSK to heavily lose their Thursday clash against Punjab Kings.
Roy, Williamson set ideal platform after early jolt
SRH did not spring a surprise with their team selection, but their strategy, however, made heads turn as the Orange Army decided to open the batting with young Abhishek Sharma, instead of Wriddhiman Saha. A boundary and a six from the blade of the southpaw in the second over threatened to turn the move into a masterstroke, but he perished after showing promise as he skied one off the bowling of George Garton to leave SRH one down after just eleven balls.
However, despite the early loss of Abhishek, SRH’s innings did not stall due to the dexterity of both Kane Williamson and Jason Roy. A 17-run fifth over from Garton got SRH’s innings back on track, post which the Orange Army motored along at a decent pace to ensure that the innings was being set-up for the second half nicely. Roy and Williamson milked the spinners, but also collected the odd boundary to keep the run rate going. They finished the 10th over on 76/1, with both the batters well-set.
For RCB, all bowlers barring Garton, who conceded 29 off his 2, did a commendable job. The pick of the bowlers was left-arm-spinner Shahbaz Ahmed, who conceded just 16 off his 3 overs and kept the SRH batters on a leash.
SRH lose the plot as Chahal, Harshal and Christian apply the choke
The Sunrisers endured an underwhelming finish to their innings, and undid the good work done by Roy and Williamson, as they did not even double their score of 76 at the halfway stage. 141 was all they could manage from their 20, and they struggled for the most part of the second half.
Williamson perished in the 12th over, dragging one onto his stumps off the bowling of Harshal Patel, but the person who triggered a collapse and stalled SRH’s innings was Dan Christian. The veteran all-rounder struck twice in the 15th over, and from thereon the Williamson-led side were not able to regain the momentum they lost. No middle-order batter managed to even score 20, and the last five overs yielded just 34 runs.
The RCB bowlers were disciplined to the core. Harshal Patel did Harshal Patel things and struck twice at the death to create history (he broke the record for the most wickets in a single IPL season by an Indian bowler), while Chahal once again bowled an excellent spell. The leggie finished with figures of 1/27 off his 4, and ensured that RCB did not let SRH get away during the middle-overs.
Sunrisers strike back as Abu Dhabi slows down
The Abu Dhabi wicket seemed to play extremely slow towards the back end of SRH’s innings, and the first half of RCB’s innings confirmed suspicions that the wicket had indeed slowed down considerably. There was no pace for the batters to work with, far too often deliveries got stuck in the wicket and slower deliveries became lethal.
The Sunrisers picked up the big wicket of Virat Kohli early, courtesy Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and then also sent back Dan Christian to the hut immediately.
37/2 was all RCB could manage inside the first six overs, and in the very next over they lost Srikar Bharat. He was undone by a rocket delivery from Umran Malik, who continued to impress. Malik, in fact, in his second over of the day, bowled the fastest delivery of IPL 2021.
Padikkal stayed put but did not score fast, and the burden of scoring at pace was once again taken up by Glenn Maxwell. He dispatched Rashid Khan for a six on just his second ball, and batted with the same intent he did in RCB’s previous game against Punjab Kings. The Reds ended the 10th over at 67/3, still needing 75 on a sluggish, two-paced wicket.
Overwhelmed RCB botch run-chase to let slip golden opportunity
Despite the below-par showing in the first 10 overs, there was reason for RCB to be optimistic. Maxwell looked like he’d picked up right from where he left off in the previous game, and Padikkal also gave him support by hanging in there. However, things would end up turning on its head in the 15th over.
With RCB needing 50 off the last six, a suicidal call saw Maxwell get run out on 40. They had the chase under control up until then, but the needless run-out saw the tide turn.
Padikkal hung in there but struggled to middle the ball. He struggled and struggled and eventually perished for 41 off 52 balls, the second slowest innings in IPL history.
50 off 6 soon became 18 off 2, but RCB were still confident, knowing that they had AB de Villiers. However, a sensational 19th over from Jason Holder saw him not only concede just 5 runs, but also keep de Villiers off strike for the most part. He bowled only one ball to the right-hander, which was also an inch-perfect yorker.
13 was what RCB eventually needed in the final over but Bhuvneshwar Kumar held his nerve and bowled to plan, outside off-stump, to bowl the Sunrisers to a 4-run win.