Morris the star and the death overs choke: Five talking points from RCB vs Kings XI Punjab
It was a game that could have ended in 18 overs of the Punjab chase. Despite Punjab being well on top for most of the run-chase, the RCB bowlers kept chipping away with dots after dots and dragged the game into a nervy finish. We look at 5 talking points from a game in which Kings XI Punjab raced to the finish line, halted at a speed bump, and just crossed over by a tiny margin over the Royal Challengers Bangalore
Having played a game in Sharjah, RCB openers Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch realized the importance of capitalizing on the powerplay overs while the field is in and the white Kookaburra is still hard. Finch remarked after the KKR game that scoring got difficult as the ball softened later in the innings. In line with his observations, RCB got off to a quick start. A 38-run opening stand had needed only 25 balls before Devdutt was dismissed. Despite the loss, RCB finished the powerplay strong with 57 on the board.
The middle muddle
The scoring did get much harder in the middle overs. The Punjab leg-spinners M Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi put the choke on, controlling the middle overs really well. With just 46 runs coming off the 8 overs after the powerplay, the momentum which had been built up in the first 6 had waned. RCB tried to get the left-right combination going, but with the pitch almost turning square and the ball not coming onto the bat, the scoring rate dipped, boundaries became a rarity.
Chris Morris continues to prove why he is such an invaluable addition to the RCB unit. After his exploits with the ball in the first two games, Morris this time showed what he can do with the bat. On a track where every other RCB batsman struggled to clear the fence, Morris deposited 3 outside the fence in a span of just 8 balls. The 8-ball 25 gave the innings the spark it needed at the end. What looked like a 150-160 score jumped by a margin of 10-15 runs, thanks to the South African’s lusty hitting.
With the ball, Morris was equally impressive. Mayank Agarwal in the pink of form struggled to lay bat in the first over. He was brought back into the attack twice - once in the middle overs, once at the death. He gave away only 4 runs on both occasions. With a total of 13 dot balls from his 4 overs, only 22 runs conceded defending a total of 170, Morris was again RCB’s shining star.
Navdeep Saini impresses again
If Chris Morris managed to bowl 13 dots in his spell, Saini managed to do one better with 14. The pave bowler impresses game after game with his fiery aggression and impeccable accuracy. Brought on to bowl the tough overs, Saini gave little away. At the halfway mark when the Kings XI needed 88, he bowled 5 dots in the over to a set and dangerous-looking duo of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul. When the Kings were on a rampage, he was brought back 4 overs later. And once again, Saini delivered with a 3-run over. His 4 overs went for only 21, proving Navdeep Saini’s importance to the RCB bowling lineup
The final choke
To paraphrase Captain Kohli, this was a game that should have been over by the 18th over. With only 11 needed off the last 3, shoulders could have easily dropped. But, the RCB bowlers did not let that happen. Morris’s 4-run 18th and 5-run penultimate overs left Chahal with only 2 runs to defend. But, RCB just would not give up. The pressure built and built leading to the two set batsmen panicking and Chris Gayle running himself out. If not for the Pooran 6 which only just cleared the long-on fielder on a small Sharjah outfield, the game which should have been a walk in the park for Punjab leading into the final phase could well have gone into a Super over.