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6 Apr 2021
The Royal Challengers Bangalore were back to their winning ways after etching a one-run win against Delhi Capitals in a thrilling encounter in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. The Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant invited RCB to bat first after winning the toss.
The Bangalore-based franchise was off to a steady start but a couple of wickets in quick succession pushed them on the backfoot. First the DC pacer Avesh Khan cleaned up the skipper Kohli after he played a back of the length delivery pitching outside his off on to his stumps for 12 off 11 and then Devdutt Padikkal’s defence was breached by Ishant Sharma on the first ball of the fifth over for 17 off 14.
Rajat Patidar and Glenn Maxwell then tried to steady the ship for the team as the two put 30 runs for the third wicket before Maxwell departed for 25 after miscuing a stroke against Amit Mishra to give a catch to Steve Smith in the deep.
Patidar was then joined by AB de Villiers who has been in some form in this IPL despite not playing any competitive cricket for almost five months now.
The two right-handed batsmen joined hands and stitched a stand of 54 runs. But Patidar’s departure in the 15th over left RCB in a spot of bother. They were 114/4 with just over 5 overs to go.
But what unleashed next was a rampage from the former South African captain. ABD was in his 20s when Patidar walked back into the hut and the experienced lad had the understanding that he had to play his natural game if RCB wanted to post a defendable total and de Villiers just did the same.
He took on the DC bowlers in the next five overs and slaughtered the bowling with every shot that he had in his batting manual. The right-handed batsman eventually remained unbeaten at 75 off just 42 which included five maximums and three boundaries during the course.
RCB put a total of 171/5 in 20 overs. Avesh Khan was the pick of the bowlers for DC after he returned with figures of 1/24 in 4 overs.
The Delhi side didn’t really have a good start to the chase and they lost three early wickets which included the scalps of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Steve Smith.
Captain Pant who came in at number 4 played a bit cautiously and tried to resist along with Marcus Stoinis as the two scored 45 runs for the fourth wicket before the former RCB player was sent packing for 22. But the things weren’t over yet for the Capitals because another ex-RCB batsman was ready to take on the bowlers.
Shimron Hetmyer walked in at number 5 and unfolded an innings that probably everyone was looking for from him. The left-handed West Indies batsman notched up 53* off just 25 but where he was on carnage in the 18th over of the innings that was being bowled by Kyle Jamieson.
The pacer was quite impressive throughout the evening but it took just three balls to nullify his efforts. He tried to bowl Yorkers on three occasions in this over and missed the length completely all the three times only to get smacked for three sixes.
Courtesy, this power-hitting from Hetmyer, DC now needed 25 off the last two. The penultimate over was given to Harshal Patel who despite getting hit for a boundary gave 11 runs in this one.
The equation was down to 14 off last 6 and Kohli handed the ball to Siraj for the final over.
Delhi side were only able to score four off the first four deliveries. Siraj bowled a full toss to Pant who tried to slog the delivery but only managed to get an edge on it. Nevertheless, DC did get a boundary bringing it down to 6 needed off 1.
The right-arm fast bowler was intelligent enough to bowl this final delivery away from the left-hander. It was a full toss, dipping down but away from Pant who did get some bat on it but could manage only a four. RCB won by 1 run.
RCB captain Virat Kohli hailed Mohammed Siraj for the way he bowled the last over and led the side to the victory. “At one stage I thought it was getting away, but Siraj's final over gave us confidence and we thought he would manage a professional and clinical job. If there weren't fielding lapses it wasn't going to go this far anyway,” he said.
Kohli also praised AB de Villiers’ efforts with the bat who held the innings tight from one end and scored valuable runs for the team.
“We lost wickets but AB went berserk and then in the last few overs while bowling Hetmyer got hold of a few, otherwise we were in control. There was no dew tonight thanks to that sandstorm, and we bowled with a dry ball, so that made a difference. Maxi is still not bowling, he's the 7th option, so we have enough options to do the job for us. We always had batting depth, but now we have a lot of bowling options too. I choose to be optimistic, but captaining for too long does make you nervous. I invariably go with the gut feel of the bowler. AB doesn't like me saying this, but he hasn't played competitive cricket for 5 months, but if you look at him bat it doesn't feel like he doesn't play international cricket anymore. Hats off to him, keeps doing it again and again for us. Such an asset for us. I'll say this again (smiles). He hasn't played for five months, just watch that innings,” Kohli added.
DC captain Rishabh Pant missed it out just by a whisker when he failed to score a six off the final ball of the innings. Expressing his disappointment, Pant said that RCB did score some extra runs on this track. “Obviously feeling disappointed, especially when you are on the losing side. They got 10-15 runs extra on this wicket. Hetty (Hetmyer) played a brilliant innings, because of him we got close to the target,” Pant said.
The wicket-keeper batsman also discussed how he and Hetmyer had planned to go after the target and how runs they could score against which bowler.
“In the last over, we were thinking whoever gets the ball has to finish the job for the team. That's what we were planning, in the end we were one run short. We counted the overs really well, in the end the spinners weren't getting the help which we thought they might get. In the end, I had to give the ball to Stoinis. It's good to take positives from all the matches. As a young team, we like to learn from each and every game and want to improve each and every day,” Pant added.
Experts’ point of view
Commentator Harsha Bhogle appreciated Hetmyer’s efforts who did play a crucial role in getting DC nearer to the target.
Journalist Boria Majumdar also lavished praise for Hetmyer.
He further talked about Harshal Patel’s temperament. Harshal was taken on by Ravindra Jadeja in the last match and was struck for 37 runs. Mentioning about the same, Boria hailed Patel’s bowling against the two well-set left-handed batsmen.
Both ABD and Hetmyer played a brisk but responsible knock when their respective teams required the most. Talking about the same, journalist Ayaz Memon was all in praise of the gutsy batting by the two but also mentioned the contrasting last overs bowled by Marcus Stoinis and Siraj that made the difference eventually.
DC had a late start to their chase as there was an occurrence of a sand storm. Something similar happened in the year 1998 in Sharjah when a game between India and Australia was halted because of the similar reason. But was unleashed next was a carnage by Sachin who hammered Australia all around the park.
Comparing the two scenes, Gaurav Kalra, a veteran TV journalist said ABD played somewhat similar knock that once Sachin played in Sharjah.
DC will now lock horns with KKR on Thursday while RCB will be up against Punjab Kings at the same venue.