End of the road for RCB after loss to RR

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) lost by 30 runs and exited from the tournament with an aggregate of 12 points.

A desolate Kohli walks back to the pavilion after being bowled out Rajasthan Royals' Krishna Gautam in Jaipur on Saturday.   -  PTI

Virat Kohli’s ever-swelling collection of trophies remains devoid of the Indian Premier League (IPL). It will hurt him for one more season as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) put up a below-par show to suffer a 30-run defeat and subsequently suffered an early exit from the tournament with an aggregate of 12 points.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

 

Rajasthan Royals came to grief at the hands of Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the latter’s home turf in Sawai Man Singh Stadium much against the run of play. Kohli and AB de Villiers were expected to exploit their batting prowess but it was RR’s day on a slow pitch. It was a perfect sign-off by RR in front of an appreciative audience which braved oppressive heat in an afternoon start on Saturday.

RCB, ironically, was decimated by Shreyas Gopal, a Bengaluru boy, who must have warmed up the hearts of some purists with his brave stuff. He was not averse to flight and tormented the batsmen with his change of length too. The RR spinners, K. Gowtham, Gopal and Ish Sodhi left a huge impact on the game with their distinctive skills.

Kohli came a cropper, playing over a Gowtham delivery while de Villiers, raising hopes in the middle overs, failed to finish, falling victim to a classical leg-spinner delivery by Shreyas Gopal, luring the batsman out and foxing him with flight. In fact, Gopal’s brilliance with the ball under floodlights was a fitting complement to the exciting innings that Rahul Tripathi had produced in the afternoon when the Maharashtra opener batted to his potential and hit an unbeaten 80.

 

A target of 165 did not demand an elaborate planning but RCB faltered right through. The cheap dismissal of Kohli created an infectious streak of recklessness as batsmen after batsmen fell to indiscretion. The RR bowlers, especially the spinners, clearly followed a pattern of keeping the ball up, giving the ball just that little turn and rip to extract the best against an indecisive opposition.

RCB batsmen lacked the footwork and the will to build the chase and the dismissal of AB de Villiers gave the home team the inspiration to close the contest in style. The RR teamwork was highlighted when Sanju Samson spilled the skier from Mohammed Siraj but Gowtham showed the presence of mind to grasp the ball and bring the contest to a glorious end for RR.

 

RR was galvanised by Tripathi’s knock. Having disappointed his well-wishers the entire domestic season, he hit his first half century in 11 innings and carried the challenge on his shoulders. It was a matured performance by Tripathi who did not lose his composure even as he steadily lost partners. Ajinkya Rahane and Heinrich Klaasen came up with cameos but it was Tripathi who dominated the first half of the match with a show that mathematically keeps RR in the tournament.

Rahane showers praise on Gopal

Royals skipper Ajinkya Rahane praised Shreyas Gopal for his excellent bowling. “He was in a good flow,” said Rahane. “I was wondering whom should I give ball to. When two right handers are batting, the chances of taking wickets increase with wrist spinners. I think I will give credit to Shreyas for bowling so well under pressure. On the other hands there was the experienced Ish Sodhi, who even took one wicket. His tight bowling helped Shreyas.”

Rahane added, “This victory means a lot to us. We missed Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes in our team. The credit goes to the whole team, especially (Heinrich) Klaasen especially the way he batted in the middle overs. It was not easy to bat in the middle overs but his innings and Rahul Tripathi’s innings was very good.”

RCB bowler Umesh Yadav observed, “Sometime it is very hard to say what went wrong despite we working so hard. We were not consistent.  Our batsmen are good, but T20 cricket is such that once the pressure sets in and wickets are falling quickly, it gets difficult as you have to maintain the run rate and save the wickets.”

Royals remains in the hunt

Rajasthan Royals kept itself in the playoff hunt with a comprehensive 30-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore, which, as a result, has been knocked out of the tournament. 

Starting the day with 12 points each, Royals and Royal Challengers had to win to remain in contention; improving the net run rate was secondary. And, courtesy of Rahul Tripathi's unbeaten 58-ball 80 and Shreyas Gopal's four for 16, Rajasthan won by a big margin of runs. Thereby, its net run rate improved from -0.40 to -0.25, which still puts it at a disadvantage for playoff qualification. It will keep an eye on the first match on Sunday, between Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians, and hoping the home side secures a victory to brighten its chances. 

Even a Delhi win over Mumbai will not make Rajasthan certain for playoffs, with Kings XI Punjab facing Chennai Super Kings in the second match on Sunday. Kings XI will begin that match with 12 points and a net run rate of -0.49, looking to register a win and also improve its net run rate to go past Royals.