It is often said that the true test comes when someone is facing adversity – when someone needs to deliver the killer blow just in order to make sure that survival happens. Every choice one makes becomes very critical in that point of time. When the Royal Challengers Bangalore took on Kolkata Knight Riders on May 23 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata they needed to win the match in order to make sure that they could be in a position to qualify for the playoffs and do what has not been done till now.
Team composition: Both the teams made some changes from their previous games. Kolkata dropped Pat Cummins and Piyush Chawla and brought back Morne Morkel and Vinay Kumar in the team. Bangalore, quite inexplicably, left out Parthiv Patel and Varun Aaron and played Yogesh Takawale and Ashok Dinda in their place.
Batting: Royal Challengers won the toss and opted to field first. Knight Riders seemed to like the decision and raced to 195 for just 4 wickets in 20 overs. Robin Uthappa (83 from 51 deliveries) and Shakib Al Hasan (60 from 38 balls) were the main contributors to the total.
Royal Challengers, on their part, did not perform too badly with the bat, finishing at 165 for 5. However, the enormity of the task and the quality of bowling in the opposition meant that they could not get there in the end. Takawale was the highest scorer with 45 from 36 balls and Virat Kohli tried hard with a 38 from 31 balls. Every other batsman got to a double digit score but there was no substantial contribution that could help the team win the game in the end.
Bowling: The quicker bowlers were the only ones to pick up wickets for RCB. Mitchell Starc performed the best with 1 for 32 in 4 overs and Abu Nechim Ahmed got 1 for 33 in 4 overs. Dinda claimed 1 for 38 in his spell of 4 overs. However, rest of the bowlers – Muttiah Muralitharan (19 runs in 2 overs), Yuvraj Singh (21 runs in 2 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (50 runs in 4 overs) were expensive and also failed to pick up wickets, which put a lot of pressure on RCB.
For KKR, Sunil Narine was yet again the star performer with 4 for 20 in his 4 overs. The other bowlers such as Shakib (none for 27 in 4 overs) and Morkel (none for 21 in 4 overs) were parsimonious, which really made up for the lack of economy on part of Umesh Yadav (1 for 45) and Vinay Kumar (none for 44).
Where do the teams go from here?
With this win Kolkata Knight Riders have now entered the playoff stage and this will make sure that they are able to play the Champions League T20. However, one feels they will aim to lift the trophy like they did in 2012. However, the form of skipper Gautam Gambhir is once again tapering off and Manish Pandey too has not been scoring many runs. If the team wishes to be champion yet again it will need to address this area sooner rather than later.
This year too has been similar to the preceding ones for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where they started well only to finish in a trepid fashion. They have some talented cricketers but for some reason they are unable to go any further than what they have done till now. Now they have two options before them – give the non-regular members a chance or continue playing their best eleven and go out with their heads held high.