IPL 2020, KXIP VS RCB: KL Rahul’s record 132 helps Punjab beat Bangalore by 97 runs

RCB won the toss and as per the pattern seen decided to field. RCB went with an unchanged X1 and Kings X1 decided to give Neesham a debut in place of Jordan. Rahul and Agarwal started well and 50 run stand was up in 6th over without taking any undue risks. Chahal provided the first breakthrough by dismissing Agarwal for 26 with the score being 57. In came Pooran who along with Rahul followed the same route of keeping the scoreboard ticking. Umesh was again below par and was smashed for 20 runs by Rahul and Pooran. Kings had it hit the top gear till now and Pooran in his quest for quick runs was caught at mid-off Shivam for 17.

Rahul who was going strong and shifted gears in final 5 overs of innings. Maxwell fell cheaply and Nair joined Rahul and started hitting RCB bowlers to all parts of the ground. Rahul was dropped twice by Kohli and took his chances by smashing Dale Steyn for 27 runs in second last over and brought up his century as well. Nair did hit a couple of boundaries but it was Rahul who was stoking the show. Dube was given the responsibility of bowling last over, as Kohli did not have enough faith on Umesh and Shivam’s two overs had gone well(2/8 of 2 overs). Rahul was not in the mood to spare him and bludgeoned him for 22 runs as last 2 overs yielded 49 and last 4 yielded a total of 74 runs.

RCB’s death bowling woes had not left him. Steyn and Umesh looked below average again. Saini went for runs 37 in 4 overs. Chahal again was the best RCB bowler. ‌With 1/25 of 4 overs. The other 16 overs went for 181 runs tells the story of RCB bowling woes. Rahul remained undefeated on 132 ( 14*4 & 7*6) and played a captain’s knock. Kings finished with 206 and chasing down the score even with dew factor was going to be a herculean task as Punjab had more potent attack than RCB team. A great start was need of the hour but the pressure of chasing a high score was always there. RCB lost Padikkal in first over to Cottrell and Philippe who was promoted fell in next over.

RCB were 3/2 in 2 overs and in came Kohli to join Finch. Kohli was not allowed anything from Cottrell and perished to a pull shot(replica of his 2015 semi-final shot against Australia) and RCB were in tatters at 5/3. Devillers look positive and in the company of Finch launched a mini counter-attack. But the mounting run rate was going to take its toll and Bishnoi, after an expensive first over, came back stronger by dismissing Finch and in next over Murugan Ashwin dismissed dangerous Devillers to left RCB reeling at 57/5 in 9th overs.

The result was a foregone conclusion but RCB would have hoped to reach as much close to King’s total to ensure damage control of net run rate. But it did not go that way also as lower order could not provide any resistance and Murugan took three wickets in his first outing. RCB could play out 20 overs and were bundled out for 109 in 17 overs. Their net run rate took a beating and very early they are showing signs of being old RCB with their death bowling leaking 16 runs / over for last 4 overs.

Apart from the first match, matches have been won by the team batting first although all have been put by in by their opposition to take the advantage of dew in the second half of innings. Teams might look to change their game plan now. Coming back to both teams Kings X1 looks good but should hope that their middle-order gets a hit so that when business end cones they all are raring to go. RCB have a lot of questions to answer, which were hidden in the first game because of Chahal’s bowling and SRH bad luck.

Opening bowlers have to pull up their socks as both have been below average so far and RCB have to find ways of using Sundar in a better way. Some of the batting positions need a bit of rethinking. Finch has to look edgy, Philippe should be used smartly and Kohli should start firing. Such thrashing results in players doubting the self-belief Katich and Hesson should ensure that’s not the case and players should have the mental strength to bounce back.