In the 2018 IPL mega-auctions, KL Rahul's name came out of the bag. While Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) were very interested in retaining the Karnataka lad's services, they saw the price balloon in front of their eyes and decided to pull out of the bid. They lost the chance of retaining someone who would light up the IPL, as Rahul became the captain of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP).
In tonight's game, Rahul made his former side realise what they missed out on in those auctions. While the scorecard may tell you otherwise, the majority of KL Rahul's innings of 132 off 69 was made up of proper cricketing shots.
Given several lives by the opposition, Rahul stepped up in the death overs to take the score into formidable territory. He then returned as captain to shepherd his bowlers superbly in restricting RCB to a paltry 109.
Rahul's record-breaking score - it was the highest for a captain in the IPL as well as for an Indian IPL player - would not have mattered, had RCB approached the chase correctly. That they looked out of the contest right from the start was due to some expert bowling by pacers Sheldon Cottrell and Mohammed Shami.
In a one-sided contest, KXIP had several positives to take away, and this massive victory will give confidence to a team rattled by a super-over loss. RCB, however, have a lot to introspect on before their next game.
We take a look at three players who underperformed in this game.
#3 Umesh Yadav (RCB)
In a show of faith by captain Kohli, Umesh Yadav was handed the ball to open the innings for the RCB. His first over seemed to go to plan, until a boundary spoiled it. After the first over, it only got worse for Umesh as he was struck for two boundaries in his next.
In his third over, however, it all fell apart. He was greeted with a boundary off Nicholas Pooran's bat. His third ball was out of control, down the leg side and way above KL Rahul's head, as the poor wicket-keeper too had no chance. The resulting free-hit was dispatched for six over deep extra cover. One more boundary in the over meant that it would be the last time Umesh was called to bowl in the game.
With bat in hand, Umesh walked to the crease only for some formalities. He went for a slog, got castled by young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, and rejoined the morose RCB dugout as quickly as he left it.
#2 Dale Steyn (RCB)
In the 2019 IPL season, Dale Steyn was one of the hottest mid-season call ups. He played two games with RCB, and was effective enough to convince them to retain him for the 2020 edition. In the first two games here in the UAE, however, he has found the going tough.
He went for over 40 runs in his first match, and followed it up in the match against KXIP by going for a whopping 57 runs. In particular, he was clobbered by KL Rahul in his final over, getting carted for 26 runs. Steyn finished with no wickets to his name. Given the competition for overseas players in RCB's squad, Steyn may have to wait for his next game in IPL 2020.
#1 Virat Kohli (RCB)
For some part of the game, particularly during the middle of the KXIP innings, you may have felt that RCB might have a good chance at restricting the batting team to a chaseable total. All that changed when KL Rahul went berserk towards the end of the innings. In part, Rahul's extra 30-40 runs in the final few overs were due to Virat Kohli dropping him twice. Both chances seemed straightforward for a fielder of Kohli's calibre.
When his turn came to bat, not only did he walk out only at number 4 after two of his young batsman had departed, he himself succumbed to the quality pace bowling of the Punjab fast bowlers as he walked back with just a single run to his name. He skied a short one looking to pull, as the young Bishnoi gobbled it up with glee.
This was a game to forget for Virat Kohli, as a batsman, fielder and captain of RCB. The errors in execution in the middle will haunt them, unless they make the right changes immediately.
Published 25 Sep 2020, 00:37 IST