Sunset RCB’s top-two hopes

Rashid Khan pressed the delivery to cover Devdat Padikkal and ran without seeing his partner. Glenn Maxwell responded and it was misjudged towards the two batsmen. Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson bounced off the ball and ran out the Aussies with a direct hit.

Run-scoring is difficult on a slow Abu Dhabi pitch, but Maxwell’s prowess is making the pitch factor redundant — he is scoring at 160 strikeouts. Yet Royal Challengers Bangalore continue to ask for close to nine runs. Eventually, his dismissal took a turn. Even for a new batsman of AB de Villiers caliber it is not so easy to force the pace directly on this surface. Padikkal, at the other end, got into trouble, going at sub-80 strike rate, before the catch in the deep khan saved him from his troubles. In the end, RCB fell by four runs, effectively ending their hopes of finishing in the top two.

SRH bowlers shine

The Sunrisers season is long overdue and dusty. However, Williamson inspired his army to play for pride. Their bowling before the T20 World Cup also provided a bigger picture. Bhuvneshwar Kumar appeared to be in fine rhythm in his four overs, giving up 25 runs and Kohli taking the wicket. Furthermore, the RCB skipper’s head fell slightly and the ball went outside the line, a problem he had to solve before the mega ICC event.

The final over was great when Kumar scored 13 against De Villiers, despite a six. Jason Holder bowled an excellent penalty, removing the dangerous-looking Shahbaz Ahmed and tightening things up for the RCB. But it was bowler Umran Malik who filled the emotions of the spectators. On a slow deck, he hit 152km, ran the batsmen and stunned Maxwell with a bad bouncer. The 21-year-old fast bowler from Jammu & Kashmir will be the future Indian player if he does not lose his way.

Maxwell form

Looking back, Kohli’s decision to bat second was wrong as the surface was slow. The SRH total, 141, is challenging because the ball does not come over the bat and the difficulty level of the batsmen increases with each passing. Maxwell Brain and Brown – 40 off 25 balls – kept most of the RCB in the chase. However, regardless of the defeat in this game, his form promotes the franchise, going to the knockouts.

This is how Maxwell goes late: 56 off 37 balls against Mumbai Indians, 50 not out off 30 balls against Rajasthan Royals, and 57 off 33 balls against the Punjab Kings. Three wins in the spin before this match took them to the playoffs.

When RCB selected Maxwell for Rs 14.25 crore in the 2021 IPL auction, the Australian had a tough time battling mental health issues. Later, he spoke openly about Kohli supporting him. The 32-year-old has been repaying the loan ever since.

Shared batting

The 70-run partnership between Jason Roy and Williamson was crucial. SRH encouraged Abhishek Sharma to hit the top pinch. But after George Gorton hit a four and a six, the youngster was out. Williamson announced he was coming to the crease with a delightful drive from Mohamed Siraj, then pulled to the deep square leg boundary.

Roy gradually grew into a game and SRH had a very good powerplay – 50/1. Kohli Credit, his active captaincy worked to the benefit of the RCB. After the end of the first tactical time, when Yuzvendra Chahal bowled a pretty simple over, Kohli immediately brought back Herschelle Patel. The next player took Williamson by three wickets and his tournament tally reached 29.

As for the RCB, help also came from an unexpected quarter, with Don Christian falling years back. The 38-year-old is unaware he has made consecutive advances. His job is to keep things tight in the middle overs. But Christian counted Priam Garg with a short-of-a-length delivery, narrowing the batsman for room before taking the blinder in his own bowling to get Roy out in the same over.

As a result the SRH lost speed. At one stage, they lost four wickets for just 31 runs in five overs. But their bowlers stood to be counted.



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