It’s only perfect for a low-scoring week to end with high-scoring thrillers, not one but two. In the first of the many doubleheaders this season, more than 700 runs were scored in the two games in two contrasting conditions with contrasting styles. While the Royal Challengers Bangalore won the first game defending a 205 run target in Chennai, the Delhi Capitals chased down 195 in Mumbai.
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders:
Electing to bat first on a rather flatter Chennai deck, Bangalore had a real scare in the second over with Chakravarthy getting rid of both Kohli and Patidar in just one over. Morgan’s ploy to open with the spinners had done wonders, but Maxwell’s arrival had soon neutralized the effect. He took Shakib away for 17 in the 4th over and opened doors for the runs to flood in. In one of the most matured innings that he’s ever played, Maxwell scored 78 of just 49 balls. The most exciting aspect of his game was the change in gear from steadying the ship with Padikkal early on and then going on a complete attack with ABD later.
The maestro ABD himself on the other end continued his surreal form with the bat in the grandest manner. He lived up to his ‘Super Human’ tag, virtually playing every possible shot in his arsenal. The ease with which AB ran through the KKR bowlers and the smartness with which he moved across the crease, even to the pacers, was phenomenal. If not for his brilliance, the 200 would never have been possible on a Chennai wicket, which’s defended even 150 over the past one week. It was one of those innings that could win you games on any wicket against any opposition with equal power and emphasis.
The defense on the other hand, for the Bangalore bowlers, had its own moments in the game. While Kolkata moved briskly towards the target, they kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. It was pleasing to see their lead spinner Chahal being amongst wickets, as the pacers Siraj, Harshal, and Jamieson had Kolkata’s task cut out with good control. The rebel from the likes of Gill and Russell were also nullified well and early. The penultimate over from Siraj to Russell consisting of four perfect yorkers followed by a well-executed short delivery was perhaps the most pleasant sight for an Indian fan. The win in the most convincing fashion, helped RCB win their third straight game in a row and top the table for the first time in a long time.
Delhi Capitals vs Punjab Kings:
In another city that has been hosting low-scoring encounters this season, the Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals played out a high-scoring thriller with the latter coming on top. Punjab initially began well with the bat. Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul had a blistering start to the innings with Agarwal scoring 69 of only 36 deliveries. But once he was dismissed, the batting lost the plot in the middle overs. The captain and the birthday boy, KL Rahul reached his fifty but failed to accelerate his scoring and failed in an attempt to up the ante. The likes of Gayle and Pooran who followed also got out without troubling the scorers much. It all seemed like an average game only till two Indian youngsters, Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan took upon themselves to put their team in good stead at the halfway mark. On the bank of their heroics in the last two overs, Punjab put forth a target of 196 to the Delhi Capitals.
Wonderful to see Shikhar Dhawan take his game to another level. In terms of strike rate, which is a key metric, he has been getting better every year since 2018.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 18, 2021
The start for the 2020 finalists was no short of a dream. The Mumbai-lad Prithvi Shaw started hitting right from the word go giving Delhi the impetus at the top that they needed. Once he was departed, his partner, Dhawan joined the party and took the responsibility upon himself. The left-hander played a few sumptuous shots through the off and the on, and also utilized the depth of the crease to good effect. His steady knock did not let Delhi be affected by an unsettling and uncharacteristic stay of Steve Smith. Dhawan not only kept the run-rate in check but found ways to attack the bowler now and then. He was finally dismissed for yet another 90+ score.
Trying to hide the disappointment of not reaching triple figures with a wide smile, Dhawan walked back to the dressing room. However, he had successfully attained what was expected of him and had taken Delhi to a winning position. Multiple blemishes in the bowling department from Punjab had also helped the cause. It only took a few strikes from Stoinis and Lalit Yadav to seal the deal for the Delhi Capitals as they chased the target with 10 balls to spare.
Overall, both the games had games, equally high-scoring and equally exciting set the tone correctly to wind up the weekend for many. IPL 2021, which has already begun with all the right ingredients for a close finish only awaits an exciting recipe.