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IPL 2019: Match 17, Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders – Tactical miss of the game

It was a one-man show by Russell, a nightmarish knock for RCB which forced jittery situation on hosts

Andre Russell
Andre Russell. (Photo: IANS)

Andre Russell. See, you have already imagined the ball sailing over the fence for a gigantic six. RCB’s wait for their first win in this edition of IPL has been extended after Russell’s belligerent 48 off 13 balls on Friday. The all-rounder helped Kolkata Knight Riders clinch their third victory this season by bagging the Player of the Match awards in all four matches. The Caribbean batter hardly left any idea of scalping for skipper Virat Kohli & Co. The equation of 53 off 18 balls was looking simple when Russell was connecting everything he hit.

What RCB need to do?

Having a poor death bowling quality, the Bengaluru side had to be a bit more aggressive by restricting the top order earlier. Russell is someone who can win the game for his team by batting only 1-2 overs. It would have been easier for RCB to oust him if the right-hand batsman was at the crease a bit earlier with the pressure mounting on the other end. Sunil Narine’s dismissal in the second over gave an opening to RCB for introducing Pawan Negi in the powerplay.

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Negi would have been expensive during Narine’s presence as the Caribbean bowler is known to dominate any sort of spinner during the field restrictions. The left-arm spinner tactic was needed early on to get better off Chris Lynn. Both the players faced off only once in the T20 format where Lynn was sent back on the second ball by Negi following his 21-ball fifty during the 2017 season. Robin Uthappa, who was at the other end, does possess a good record against the spinners.

However, against Negi, Uthappa scored only 24 off 26 balls in the IPL comprising two fours. RCB pacers could deliver at the speed of 140s. Lynn is used to smashing such bowlers out of the park and the hosts needed his wicket early on as he scored a couple of the fifties in his previous two appearances in Bengaluru. Collectively spinners conceded 115 runs across 15 overs for three wickets while the five overs of pace cost as much as 89 runs.

What actually happened

Virat Kohli and Co. decided against the ploy of Negi vs Lynn in the powerplay. In fact, the first five overs of the KKR innings were bowled by the pacers. The first over of spin came in the 6th over when Yuzvendra Chahal was brought in. Lynn has had a good amount of success against Chahal as he scored 64 off 42 at the cost of dismissal against the leg-spinner in the IPL.

He continued his domination by sending one back to pavilion in that over. RCB finally turned up to Negi in the 10th over where the Delhi spinner gave no room to Uthappa and made him hit up high to the long-off. The Delhi all-rounder broke through Lynn’s defence in the very next over to bring RCB back into the game. Knight Riders were cruising at 92/1 after nine overs but scored only 48/3 in the next seven overs.

Chahal-Negi duo bowled five overs in this period conceding only 32 runs. Had RCB not delayed the spinners, they could have been defending around 100-110 runs in the last 6-7 overs against Russell. This could have given them a better chance of winning. Russell’s aim was all about clearing the boundary on the very possible ball he faced in the last moments.

RCB missed the trick of bowling spin early on twice in two games now. On a track where Gopal stood as a hero for the Rajasthan Royals, RCB did not bring Chahal against Buttler till the end of the powerplay. Chahal broke the deadlock by dismissing both the openers and finished with figures of 2/17. The run rate that Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane accumulated runs at the start of the innings turned out to be the difference.

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