Royal Challengers Bengaluru have managed to be on the right side on their opening encounter by defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 10 runs. It was not a last-over thriller but fortunes fluctuated right through and in the end, despite late fee RCB bowlers managed to defend a par score.
SRH won the toss and as per trend decided to field first. Devdutt and Finch we’re opening for RCB and there was a level of excitement over inclusion over former. Devdutt was straightaway in his elements and was very severe on any loose ball. Finch was playing second fiddle to his younger partner and took some time to find his range. Devdutt ensured that a healthy run rate was maintained and when Finch started to middle things started going downside for SRH bowlers.
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Devdutt was very quick to pounce on anything short and bit Natarajan for three boundaries in an over. SRH cause was also not helped by Marsh getting injured while bowling his first over and Vijay Shankar had to finish his over. Devdutt reached his maiden 50 in the 10th over and RCB was sitting pretty at 86 for no loss in 10 overs. Shankar came back to dismiss Devdutt in 11th over. Finch, who was getting his range, was out next over. Virat and AB Devillers then played around some overs to gauge the pace of the wicket. Virat was dismissed by Natarajan in 16th over in trying to step up the run rate.
Shivam Dube joined Devillers and was keen on giving strike back to Devillers as he had faced more balls and was more likely to score the big hits. He scored the odd boundary in over and kept the scoreboard moving. He hit Sandeep Sharma for 2 sixes and completed his fifty of 29 balls in last over. He was run out in last over in order to retain strike. Bhuvneshwar was bowling the last over and gave only 7 runs. Bhuvneshwar, Sandeep and Natarajan bowled the dot balls so that the final flourish never came for RCB. From 90/1 in 11 overs they rallied to get 163, just about par, a good 15-20 runs short of where they would have liked to reach from start.
SRH openers, Warner & Bairstow, went to open the innings and were quickly out of blocks. Umesh could not find his radar and went for plenty as SRH reached 18 by the middle of a second over. RCB got a lucky break against the run of play when a straight hit of Bairstow was touched by Umesh and hit the stumps at the non-striking end with Warner out of his crease. Manish Pandey came and along with Bairstow kept the scoreboard moving with Bairstow playing the aggressor and Manish as second fiddle.
Umesh had a forgettable outing and went for 49 on his 4 overs with Bairstow taking a special liking for him. Chahal managed to squeeze out runs in middle overs and SRH was not losing wickets but reqd run rate was around 9 and thereabouts. RCB managed to breakthrough in 12th over through Chahal who lured Manish into a lofted shot and had him caught at long-on. Men in red sensed their opportunity as new faces of SRH middle order were coming to bat. Kohli gave the ball to Shivam Dube and he bowled a lot of off-pace deliveries which SRH were finding hard to hit.
With Umesh having bowled his quota RCB were somehow forced to use Shivam in later stages and he delivered. Priyam Garg, who had come after Manish departed, was founding it hard to score the odd boundary which meant Bairstow had to take the added risk of finding the boundary. Bairstow hit Steyn for a couple of boundaries in 14th over an equation in last 5 was 43 runs with 8 wickets in hand. But RCB knew there are some young players and Marsh was also not in a position to bat so they knew a couple of wickets will put them right back into the game. Kohli took the bold route of giving Chahal his last over to go for wickets and Chahal responded by taking Bairstow and Shankar if successive deliveries to out RCB firmly on control.
As during Kohli-ABD stand, we saw that shot-making was not easy, so for a new batsman to score a run rate of 8.5 and over was never going to be easy. Two new batsmen came and RCB tightened the screws by giving no pace to work with. In 17th over bowled by Shivam, SRH loses two more wickets (one run out including) to hit themselves on foot to kill their slim hopes of winning. From 121/2, SRH had slipped to 135/6 in 17 overs. Dew had started to creep in but SRH just did not have any set batsman to take advantage and Saini who bowled the hard lengths and was not easy being hit had one over remaining and Kohli make him bowl the 18th over.
Saini took two wickets in over to kill off any slim hopes 21 reqd of two with a limping Marsh to bat. Shivam bowled an outstanding 19th over giving only 3 runs and taking the wicket of Marsh, he was taken out of the ground by the physio, to seal the result. Steyn who had a cushion of 18 runs with the last wicket at the crease. He effective close out the match and RCB won the match which they deserved.
RCB bowlers were under the scrutiny because of their past IPL performances and they responded brilliantly also helped by long boundaries. The wickets they took in middle order meant that they took the dew factor out of the equation. RCB would like to continue playing the next match with the same calmness and intensity. On the other hand, SRH have a lot of thinking to do regarding Marsh’s replacement and how to make the best use of young middle order.
For once Kohli looked calm and had the belief of target being defended.