|Scorecard:||Royal Challengers Bangalore v Rajasthan Royals|
|Player:||RS Dravid, A Kumble, SK Warne, AD Mascarenhas|
DateLine: 18th April 2009
Anil Kumble has always been a match-winner for India, in all formats, but Twenty20 was never supposed to be an ‘old man’s game’. Having retired from international cricket not so long ago, he would have settled for a decent spell, but returning with five wickets for five runs off 3.1 overs is phenomenal.
Bangalore Royal Challengers were the horror story of the first Indian Premier League but this is a new thing altogether. They were one of the horror stories of the tournament last time, and came up with what was termed as a Test team. But as the two matches in this edition of the tournament have shown, this is completely new thing. Royal Challengers were the regal ones at Newlands on Saturday, as the defending champions Rajasthan Royals were decimated for 58 off just 15.1 overs, the lowest in the IPL records, going down by 75 runs. It is easy to have hindsight, but in the absence of the likes of Shane Watson and Kamran Akmal in the middle-order, the Rajasthan batting is not the strongest. So once the top-order falls cheaply, as it happened this time, this batting may well struggle throughout.
Another thing that comes to the forefront straightaway is that this time around, the bowlers will definitely have a say. Some of the pitches have much to offer to spinners, the weather may well help the seamers, and chasing under lights also will be a challenge. While the Royals had also lost the first match last year, but this time around things will be different surely, irrespective of the coincidences. The batting had little to offer and three batsmen – Tyron Henderson, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja – managed to register 11 runs apiece, but no one else got anywhere. Praveen Kumar and Jesse Ryder did their bit with the seam-up stuff and then it was some mindless slogging and running between the wickets and that ensured that the defending champions also have the dubious distinction of scoring the lowest total of the IPL.
Earlier, Ryder and Ross Taylor, two New Zealand’s best and best in the business anywhere, and losing them off successive deliveries wasn’t what Pietersen had thought of when he had won the toss and batted. But Dmitri Mascarenhas had other ideas. Mascarenhas would any day settle for a spell like that. Two wickets in the first over, and three for 20 in four overs is far greater that what a bowler can expect in a Twenty20 game, and by the time he had finished it, Bangalore were already doomed to a mediocre total. Of the three, Robin Uthappa would certainly be one who should take some heat for the way he got out, since he had seen a potential disaster for his team but wasn’t focussed enough to put his head down.
It was left to Pietersen and Dravid to steady the rocking boat, which they did pretty well, but the captain, like several other batsmen, gave away his wicket off a pretty ordinary delivery. Pietersen has not yet been forgotten or forgiven by the South African crowd, but he never ever let that faze him. He was in command for most of his knock and promised a lot till his false shot. Dravid wasn’t playing just to put up a good total for his side. Never the most voluble or demonstrative of men, the veteran batsman would surely be hot under the collar about the rather brusque removal as captain of the side, with the honours going to new kid on the block, Pietersen. Dravid was dead set on proving a point or two to people and the rather pointed signal at the VIP area post his half-century.
That determination only went towards at least making the Bangalore score a shade more respectable, since not one other batsman, barring Pietersen, looked evenly remotely able to sort out the Rajasthan bowling. In that department, Warne really took the cake. The master leggie still has a bit of way to go before he is completely in control of whatever he bowls, but he was still good enough for Virat Kohli and B Akhil. Two for 18 off four overs was outstanding. It was ultimately left to Dravid and Praveen Kumar to put some runs on the board, and make the total look like one which would make the Rajasthan boys at least work hard.