Royal Challengers Bangalore continued to be where they were in the points table after yet another embarrassing loss against Kings XI Punjab on Friday (May 5). Despite restricting the visitors to 138 for 7, the famed batting line-up botched up yet another chase with their top three guns failing to fire. Sandeep Sharma‘s triple strike preceded by a quickfire cameo by Axar Patel in the final stages of the game kept KXIP alive in their hunt for a finish in the top four.
How the M Chinnaswamy surface ‘aided’ RCB for a change
When Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field first, he reckoned that the wicket at the M Chinnaswamy looked a lot different than the ones that had been used for the previous games in the season. But the way it played out, it looked no different as the spinners had a field day at the office. In the ten overs bowled by the spinners, only 56 runs were conceded with three wickets nipped out.
But before the spinners came in to play, Aniket Choudhary used his accuracy and lethargy of the wicket to great use, conceding only six runs in his first two overs. Barring the third over where he leaked 11 runs, the left-arm quick was on top of his game and was largely responsible for the sluggish start of KXIP. His final over was a wicket maiden and that coming in the 19th over of the innings was timed to perfection.
As for spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal could have had Wriddhiman Saha as his first wicket but an off day for Kedar Jadhav behind the stumps meant that he missed a stumping and run-out chance, all in one ball, to let the KXIP wicketkeeper-batsman carry on for longer than he would have thought. However, Chahal retorted with wickets of Manan Vohra and Glenn Maxwell in back to back overs to tighten the stranglehold over the visitors. Negi scalped a wicket too, to ensure the slowness of the Bengaluru surface aided them for a change.
When KXIP got their noses ahead, at least psychologically
Axar Patel helped his side with the much needed late momentum when he laid into an out-of-form Shane Watson, who was chosen over the in-form Negi for the final over. A six off the first ball, followed by a couple and a couple of fours ensured that the seasoned Australian felt the heat at an otherwise pleasant Bangalore. He bowled a wide right after that and eventually let 19 runs off the 20th over to see KXIP soar to 138 for 9, a total that seemed respectable, keeping in mind RCB’s underwhelming batting form.
Who emerged as the game-changer?
It seemed like a relay race when Sandeep Sharma was passed on the torch from Axar Patel. A breakthrough season in 2014 established the young swing bowler on the scene when he bagged 18 wickets. Coming into this game against the RCB, Sandeep had 13 wickets against the opponents and carrying his strong reputation further, he nipped out Chris Gayle, Kohli and AB de Villiers in his first three overs to quash RCB’s chances up front. His vicious, and importantly, controlled swing broke the back of RCB’s batting lineup, further underlining their misery.
Gayle charged down to a fine outswinger to get only an edge, Kohli’s aggressive shimmy was undone by an inswinger and de Villiers too failed to decode the movement in the air before handing his wicket.
Axar Patel’s all-round show turned out to be a game-changer © Cricbuzz
Killer blow delivered by an all-round Axar Patel
Axar Patel wasn’t done after his quickfire cameo of 38 off 17. By the time, his left-arm spinners were employed by his skipper, RCB were already beaten to pulp but his timely strike of Watson didn’t allow RCB any chance to pick themselves off the mat. Later, his back to back wickets to remove Negi and Samuel Badree in the 18th over sealed the deal. His figures of 3 for 11 conceal the fact that two of them were lower-order wickets but it eventually helped his side close a game with far more comfort, which could show up in the net run-rate column.
Where do the teams go from here?
Following RCB’s ninth loss in this season, they go nowhere from here, both literally and metaphorically. They play their next game against KKR on May 7 at home, the team which delivered them their biggest humiliation in their tournament history. In what would be their last chance to put a smile on their faithful’s face at home, RCB will be desperate for a better result.
KXIP kept their chances alive with this win and with two home games coming up next, first of which against an injury-marred and knocked out Gujarat Lions on May 7, they would be keen to strengthen their position on the points table.
Brief Scores: Kings XI Punjab 138/7 in 20 overs (Axar Patel 38*; Aniket Choudhary 2-17) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 119 in 19 overs (Mandeep Singh 46; Axar Patel 3-11, Sandeep Sharma 3-22) by 19 runs.