In a continuation of their recent Indian Premier League (IPL) head-to-head record, the Punjab Kings (PBKS) defeated the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to move up to fifth in the points table. PBKS got their third win of the season, while RCB notched up their second loss.
Batting first, PBKS made a change at the top - Prabhsimran Singh - which didn't quite work out. What did work out was a vintage innings from Chris Gayle - albeit a brief one - and a slow start from KL Rahul which was followed by dramatic acceleration to provide PBKS 179 to defend.
In truth, RCB never looked like chasing it down, as their batsmen struggled and were stunned by PBKS' young spin duo. Harshal Patel's late, NRR-boosting strikes gave RCB something to cheer about on an otherwise disappointing day.
Here are three reasons why RCB lost to PBKS on April 30.
#3 Harshal Patel's alarming dip in form for RCB
One of the biggest reasons for RCB's early-season brilliance was the form of Harshal Patel with the ball. The surprise star picked up wickets at will, largely because of the conditions on offer at Chennai, where his cutters were a handful on the slower wickets.
Since then, however, he has been found out, starting with Ravindra Jadeja's mauling of him in the game against Chennai Super Kings. In this game, his death bowling disintegrated against KL Rahul and Harpreet Brar, as he ended up with figures of 4-0-53-0.
The form of Harshal has had a direct bearing on RCB's results, and his inefficacy on faster pitches is a cause for concern.
#2 RCB's top-order woes continue
Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli looked brilliant in RCB's ten-wicket mauling of the Rajasthan Royals, but the duo overall haven't laid a marker on the competition yet. The problem continues with the No. 3 slot, which due to some bizarre thinking is occupied by a batsmen with significantly lower reputation than the openers and the overseas duo of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers.
In this game, Padikkal departed early, but Kohli and No. 3 Rajat Patidar completely sapped the chase of momentum with their near run-a-ball thirties. When Kohli was dismissed, Maxwell and De Villiers came under pressure and ended up losing their wickets to Harpreet Brar.
Although Patidar had a good game against the Delhi Capitals, he is miles away from justifying his No. 3 spot. Kohli too needs to step up his own game for RCB to do well this year.
#1 PBKS' spin duo shine in all facets
A slew of interesting changes saw Harpreet Brar, a left-arm spin-bowling all-rounder, get a go in the playing XI for PBKS on a pitch that could assist him. When he walked out at No. 7 amid a miniature batting collapse, not much was expected from him, but he gave his skipper more than adequate company with a 17-ball 25.
It was with the ball that Brar and young Ravi Bishnoi imposed themselves. Between the two of them, they conceded 36 runs from 8 overs and dismissed the entire RCB middle order and Kohli. The two were sharp in the field too, with Bishnoi taking a stunner to dismiss Harshal and Brar taking a high catch to see the back of Shahbaz Ahmed.
While the thinking of PBKS remains a mystery, the outcome was a very pleasant one in this game.