The AB smash and grab and the Morris impact: 5 talking points from RR vs RCB
On an evening when AB de Villiers once again pulled off the surreal, RCB bagged a crucial couple of points to solidify their top 4 position against the Rajasthan Royals. We take a look at 5 talking points from a victory which looked unlikely at a point but nevertheless did not surprise one bit given who pulled it off.
The Morris impact
With every passing game, the impact that Chris Morris has had on the RCB lineup is becoming ever so more apparent. The Royals had gotten off to a quick-fire start in the powerplay, Robin Uthappa and Ben Stokes motoring along at above 9-an-over. When he was brought back, Morris got the dangerous Ben Stokes to calm the RCB nerves down. He was re-introduced when Steve Smith and Jos Buttler were about to launch and he got rid of the dangerous Buttler. His last over, also the final over of the innings, cost only 4 runs and accounted for Steve Smith and Jofra Archer. With yet another spell of tight bowling, giving away only 26 runs and picking up all 4 of the RR overseas players, Morris once again demonstrated his importance to the RCB lineup.
When he came on to bowl in the eighth over of the Rajasthan innings, Chahal was put on the backdoor straightaway by Sanju Samson who deposited his first ball into the stands. Robin Uthappa was already well set and was looking a million bucks upon his return to the top of the order. But, Chahal is known for his comebacks. He is a bowler who is not scared to get hit and come back unfazed. With his typical ice-cold veins, he knocked over both the set batsmen off consecutive deliveries later in the over. The twin dismissals pushed Rajasthan back into their shells for a while more, delaying their planned assault and probably even knocked off 15 runs off the eventual target.
Every time RCB have won a game this season, the batting innings powerplay has been crucial. Once again, despite going below the required rate, losing just one wicket in the powerplay ensured that there was always going to be enough in the tank when the time comes to take on the RR bowling. It might have seemed that the boundaries were not coming as frequently as they should have, but despite the struggle in the middle overs, RCB’s required rate was hovering around 10 when Devdutt and Virat were going. By the end of the partnership, RCB had 8 wickets in hand having to chase down 76 runs off 7 overs. The partnership allowed the likes of De Villiers and if needed any of the hitters lower down the order to come in and tee off.
The Gurkeerat role
He was playing his first innings of the season. With all the pressure on his back, when he played out 3 dot balls off Jaydev Unadkat’s 17th over with 54 still to get, that pressure would have mounted further. But, Gurkeerat stuck to his guns. He understood his role in the partnership would be to not get stuck at one end and starve De Villiers for strike. In the next 3 overs, he faced 8 more balls and only one of them was a dot. With 15 needed off 8, with a boundary and a single, he brought the runs required down to 10 off the last. A brace and a single left De Villiers within touching distance of the finish line. Gurkeerat’s 19 off 17 was crucial in the 77-run stand that took RCB home.
AB smash and grab
Yes, we have saved the best for the last just like RCB and AB de Villiers did on the evening. With 64 needed off the last 5 overs, there are very few batsmen in the world who could have kept the hopes up in the dressing room. And De Villiers showed just why he is one of a kind. Not because he managed to get the team across the line, but because he did it yet again, a sort of aura that he has created and manages to keep it glowing game after game. A great batsman might pull off such a heist a few times in his career, but one has come to expect AB de Villiers to do it every time he is pushed into such a situation. That makes him world-class. A 22-ball 55, rounded off with a fist pump and a cry, the Superman who does not need a cape had pulled off a smash and grab from a game the Royals would have felt they were ahead of for the entire bit except for when AB de Villiers was batting.