3-2-2-3, When was the last time one saw a bowler perform this well in the powerplay? When was the last time you saw two maidens in a single spell? When was the last time perhaps, you saw the RCB bowlers look that lethal? In a world of firsts, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the prime contenders for the title. The team found balance early, clicked into their grooves quickly and have had a successful campaign ever since. Some owe it to the unpredictability of the year 2020, some credit the foreign conditions, some say it is the change in the team management while believe it is the hard-work and efforts paying off. Irrespective of the reason, RCB have finally performed to their fullest potential.
The win against Kolkata Knight Riders is arguably a proof to the same. The bowlers began well and kept the scorers interested right from the word go. Mohammad Siraj got rid of Rahul Tripathi in the second over and followed it up with Nitish Rana’s dismissal, immediately the next ball. The swing he found, the pace he generated and the discipline he possessed was unparalleled, enough to catch the KKR batsmen off-guard. He was ably supported by the likes of Chris Morris and Navdeep Saini to reduce KKR to 16/4 after the powerplay. The match seemed quite reminiscent of Kolkata vs Bangalore, Eden Gardens, 2017 but only with the roles reversed. Given his competitiveness, it is also fair to assume, the thought of dismissing Kolkata under 49 would have crept up even in the minds of Virat Kohli.
What a spell from Mohd Siraj. He is a quality red ball bowler and he has bowled like that here. 3-0 in 2 overs! So different from bowling at the death at that cruel Chinnaswamy Stadium.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 21, 2020
The chances of it happening grew even further as Chahal and Sundar applied even more pressure. However, Morgan stood his ground to see KKR score more than the infamous 49 but soon perished in an attempt to up-the-anti. Few late hits from Ferguson and Kuldeep kept KKR out of an insulting all-out albeit only managing to put 84 on the board. It was the lowest score for a team ever after playing the full 20 overs.
The team has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent times and it has largely impacted them on the field. The absence of Narine and Russell has made it even worse. Unfortunately, there is a shadow of doubt and uncertainty on the role of each and every player in the team. Though the team has come back from behind to win multiple times, they are yet to click as a unit. Or as coach Brendon McCullum puts it, “They are yet to play their best cricket.”
Having said, Kolkata still has a fair chance to qualify for the play-offs. Out of their remaining 4 games, they need to win the next three to go through. Meanwhile, it gets much easier for the RCB who need to win only one. However, Bangalore are now amidst the battle for the Top 2 place, and thereby an extra chance, with Delhi and Mumbai. The kind of form, balance and ability that they have displayed over the last few weeks, closing out close games and honing a winning habit is the brand the Kohli-led franchise has been striving for. RCB have also kept the qualification hopes of Chennai, Rajasthan, Hyderabad and Punjab alive. As we move on to the business end of the tournament, the atmosphere is sure to fill in more excitement and anxiety in the teams as well as the fans.