IPL 9, Qualifier 1 Review: RCB hiccups through to the finals

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Royal Challengers Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore. (Photo Source: BCCI)

The stage was set in Bengaluru for the all-important qualifier 1 match between the two top teams of the league table. Gujarat Lions locked horns with the home side Royal Challengers Bangalore at a packed Chinnaswamy Stadium. With shorter boundaries at the venue, it was expected to rain sixes in the sea of red.

The first Qualifier between RCB and GL was a curious case that showed how a lone ranger can bail out the entire team out of trouble; it happened with Dwayne Smith doing it for GL and later AB de Villiers taking RCB to a crucial win. Also, the match clearly depicted that no matter how small the ground is or how hostile the conditions are for a bowler, if the bowler runs in good, he can wreak havoc. DhawalKulkarni was at his sublime best as he ripped through the batting heavy RCB, that once seemed to have no flaw in it.

How did Twitter react to the game? – Twitter Reactions: AB de Villiers and Abdulla take RCB into the final

Earlier in the day, ViratKohli had won the toss and elected to field first. Such high was his confidence that he said he would be happy chasing any total at this venue. Suresh Raina, the Gujarat Lions skipper, on the other hand, said taking the wicket of Kohli early will hold the key.

Gujarat had a terrifying start with the bat as their big guns failed miserably on the night when it mattered. After a clinical first over by SreenathArvind, that yielded just 2 runs, Iqbal Abdulla struck first ball of the 2nd over to take the wicket of Brendon McCullum. In the same over, he got rid of the other opener too, Aaron Finch, who was dismissed for 4. In the 3rd over, Kohli threw the ball to Shane Watson, who did not disappoint and scalped the wicket of the Lions skipper Suresh Raina, who could pocket just 1 run. Lions were stuttering at 9/3.

Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Smith were the two new batsmen at the crease. They had a big task in their hand. They did well enough to stabilise the collapsed innings. While Karthik played with caution, Smith was seen playing his shots freely and taking calculative risks. They put on 85 runs in 61 balls for the 4th wicket that had taken the Lions out of danger. The partnership was broken in the 14th over, when Dinesh Karthik disturbed his wooden work off the bowling of Chris Jordan. Karthik made 26 off 30 balls with 2 fours.

Dwayne Smith kept losing partners at the other end, with EklavyaDwiwedi (19) and DhawalKulkarni (10) chipping in with crucial runs. Meanwhile, Smith had brought up his half century and looked good for more before mistiming a ball by YuzvendraChahal that went straight into the hands of ViratKohli. Smith’s brutal knock of 73 came in 41 balls with 5 fours and 6 maximums. Shane Watson was the wrecker-in-chief for the RCB as he picked up 4/29 in his four overs. The Lions were bundled out for 158 in 20 overs.

The target never looked daunting with the likes of ViratKohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers in the batting lineup. Kohli and Gayle walked into the middle to kick start the run chase. Kohli, who had 919 runs to his name in the series so far, was expected to run through this chase. Much to the dismay of the local crowd, it was one rare failure from Kohli and when! Kohli was dismissed for a duck as DhawalKulkarni ripped apart his stumps to send the skipper back to the dugout.

The worse was yet to come, though. DhawalKulkarni, in his next over, got the inside edge of Gayle’s willow that knocked off his off stump. With Gayle returning back with 9 runs, RCB were in some trouble. In walked KL Rahul, the man with impressive showing this season that had earned him a national team callup last night. However, the day wasn’t his either. All he could manage was a golden duck and it was DhawalKulkarni in action again! Shane Watson was the new man in, who joined AB de Villiers, who had been watching all this from the non-strikers end.

Suresh Raina smelled blood and asked RavindraJadeja to bowl inside the powerplay. Jadeja responded well and removed Watson for just 1. Sachin Baby didn’t bother the scorers much and was the 4th victim of Kulkarni, who was going through a dream spell. He finished with 4/8 in his 3 overs. More importantly, RCB were struggling at 31/5 by the end of the powerplay.

Stuart Binny and AB de Villiers then put on 39 for the 6th wicket to keep the scorecard moving. Binny’s cameo of 15-ball 21 ended when Jadeja trapped him lbw in the 10th over. Iqbal Abdulla joined AB at the crease. AB steadily kept the score moving and played with caution. It was the 15th over of the match when Dwayne Smith was given the ball. AB finally decided to cut loose and thwacked him for 14 runs bringing the equation down to 49 needed off 30 balls. In the process, the South African also brought up his half century.

Jakati’s next over was taken for 15, courtesy of a six each from the bats of AB and Abdulla. Praveen Kumar came back to bowl the 17th over and was taken for  12 and the equation suddenly reduced to 21 needed off 18. When Dwayne Bravo came in to bowl the next over, it was Iqbal Abdulla, who struck him for 3 straight boundaries to almost seal the game for RCB. In the next over, he hit the winning runs to finish the match for RCB and the RCB were through to the finals!

RCB won by 4 wickets and 10 balls to spare. It was AB de Villiers’ unbeaten 79 off 47 with 5 fours and as many sixes, well supported by Iqbal Abdulla’s 33 off 25 that saw them sail over the line.

Brief Scores:

Gujarat Lions: 158/10 in 20 overs (DR Smith 73, Watson 4/29)

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 159/6 in 18.2 overs (AB de Villiers 79, D Kulkarni 4/14)

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