In a continuation of the trend of upsets with respect to the points table, the seemingly down-and-out Chennai Super Kings (CSK) pulled one out of the bag against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
The Men in Yellow kept RCB from qualifying early and stayed alive themselves, although the result of the next match between the Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians ensured that CSK became the first team to be knocked out.
Not only did CSK's youngsters - or rather, youngster - display the much-sought-after spark, Mitchell Santner too showed his value in his first game for the side this season.
RCB's innings hardly got going, with no batsman being able to hit the big shots consistently enough. Tellingly, Aaron Finch's strike rate of 136 was the highest, while AB de Villiers did not clear the ropes even once in his innings. Except for newcomer Monu Kumar, CSK's bowlers did a fine job, with Sam Curran picking up three wickets to once again shine amidst the CSK rubble this season.
In the chase, CSK hardly looked vulnerable after a flying start to make RCB's 145 look inadequate. Despite Faf du Plessis' dismissal, the innings hardly lost momentum, as young Ruturaj Gaikwad shone and Ambati Rayudu played a supporting hand. Rayudu's dismissal brought in skipper MS Dhoni, who stayed on till the end to ensure that CSK won with more than an over to spare.
In a must-win game for CSK, they finally showed themselves to be a better team than the points table suggests. RCB, who may have assumed a win here, have now encountered a small hurdle in their path to the playoffs.
Here are the top three underperformers from the match.
#3 Aaron Finch (RCB)
Aaron Finch is supposedly a part of RCB's leadership group. That probably explains why the Australia limited-overs skipper continues to partner Devdutt Padikkal at the top despite innumerable failures.
Finch has been neither been able to get off the blocks quickly nor score big runs for his franchise, and he made the murmurs surrounding his place more audible with another lacklustre display. Scoring 15 off 11 with 3 boundaries, he was unable to capitalise on the conditions.
It meant that Finch spent the rest of the game watching RCB slip to a rather tame defeat. However, given that RCB is not nearly at panic stations, he is unlikely to be replaced.
#2 Moeen Ali (RCB)
On a pitch that was supposed to be conducive to spin, Sam Curran was CSK's best bowler (although CSK's spinners all bowled economically).
Was it too much to expect the same from RCB? They opted to leave out Sri Lankan pacer Isuru Udana so that Moeen Ali could provide extra spin while also lengthening their batting order.
Eventually, Moeen experienced the peril of being an all-rounder - failure in both departments when it doesn't quite go your way. Coming in at No. 5 to take over from RCB's mainstays, the Englishman was unable to cough up more than 1 off 2 balls, ensuring an abysmal death-overs finish.
With ball in hand, his two unremarkable overs went for 17 runs with no wicket. Moeen may have failed to make a case for more regular chances in the line-up.
#1 Mohammed Siraj (RCB)
The most aggrieved party after seeing Siraj's figures today was not RCB or Siraj himself, but the Kolkata Knight Riders. In an average season for the pacer, they were unlucky to be at the receiving end of a dream spell in RCB's previous game.
Siraj returned to expensive ways and only worsened his season economy, which stands closer to 9 an over as of now. He did take a catch to dismiss Du Plessis, but the damage was probably done by then.
With 145 runs to defend, RCB would have hoped for a fiery spell from their pacer. Instead, his two overs were taken for 29 runs, as Virat Kohli was forced to remove him from the attack.
Rayudu, Gaikwad and Du Plessis all took heavy toll on Siraj, as he witnessed the lows of T20 cricket after unbelievable highs just one game ago. RCB would need Siraj to be more consistent in their push for the title.
Published 25 Oct 2020, 23:36 IST