After the first over was bowled by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Virat Kohli had an idea that wasn't part of the team's plans initially. He threw the ball to Mohammed Siraj after seeing swing on offer, and that turned the game, as well as Siraj's season, on its head.
The 26-year-old nicked off Rahul Tripathi and Tom Banton, and also castled Nitish Rana for a golden duck. Siraj's figures after his first two overs read a ridiculous 2-2-0-3. KKR slumped to a score of 17-4 after the first six overs, and it was always going to be tough for them from that position.
Crucially, former captain Dinesh Karthik was dismissed against leg-spin just when it seemed he was ready to rebuild. With captain Eoin Morgan too walking back before the completion of the 20 overs, it was up to the tail to prolong the innings and have something to bowl at.
Chasing 85 - the lowest ever total set by a team that had batted through an IPL innings - for victory, RCB looked tentative early on, but some boundaries eased the pressure. Inexplicably, Lockie Ferguson was held back, and although he scalped the only wicket by a KKR bowler, it was too little, too late. RCB cruised home with the loss of only two wickets to bring to an end a shambolic display by KKR.
In one of the most one-sided contests that this edition has seen (KKR have been humbled on four occasions now, but this must be the worst), there were several players who underperformed. Here's a look at the top three.
#3 Shubman Gill (KKR)
KKR's young opener, who has won the IPL Emerging Player award in the past, has been touted for the big stage from the time he burst onto the scene as an U19 World Cup winner. However, Shubman Gill's consistent run of form at the start of the season has declined sharply into an inability to score quickly.
On this occasion, he suffered from the opposite problem, and played a rash shot when the team was struggling at 3/2 to throw his wicket away. Gill seems to be receiving contradicting signals from the team management at times, which, in addition to the abject failures of the batsmen around him, has contributed to KKR's poor starts for quite some time.
#2 Nitish Rana (KKR)
Before Nitish Rana was picked up by KKR in the 2018 auctions, he had condemned them to losses while playing against them as a finisher. In both the previous two seasons as part of the 2-time IPL champions, he has shown the ability to take responsibility, score quickly and bowl part-time when needed.
This season started well for Rana, but is rapidly becoming a campaign to forget. A string of low scores has put enormous pressure on Rana's place in the team, not least because he is not contributing with ball in hand this season. Coming in at the fall of Tripathi, Rana was bluffed by Siraj into expecting the bouncer and was comprehensively bowled after being stuck on the crease, for a golden duck.
#1 Dinesh Karthik (KKR)
A couple of quick and convincing cameos have done little to disguise Dinesh Karthik's season of woes. After relinquishing the KKR captaincy, the wicket-keeper's season trajectory has not changed, as he continues to struggle when sent in before the 10th over.
In KKR's surprisingly good season in 2018, Karthik was able to bail the team out of dire straits with his strike rotation, placement, and most importantly, his confidence against spin. All that has withered as he has been a sitting duck against leg-spin, failing to pick the googlies and dragging wide, tossed-up balls back onto his stumps.
In this game, all Karthik could manage was a 14-ball 4 before being trapped helplessly in front of the stumps by Yuzvendra Chahal.
Published 22 Oct 2020, 11:13 IST