At first, lightning, thunder, showers, almost put paid to the hopes of both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday. After the groundsmen did just enough to make the last cut-off for a five-over game, RR restricted RCB for a score of 62/7.
The Steve Smith-led side was cruising at 41/1 to keep its playoff hopes alive when rain intervened again to end the match.
Though RR still has a remote chance of making the playoff, it’s game over for RCB.
Earlier in the day, Shreyas Gopal took his own sweet time to warm up for his bowling spell. When he did bowl the first ball, Virat Kohli dispatched it with disdain for an arching six over long-on. He followed it up with a silky touch through mid on for a boundary. The next ball provided only two runs for a restless Kohli who then offered a catch to Liam Livingstone at long-on. The situation demanded King Kohli to take the aerial route.
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His team-mates followed suit; a little recklessly this time as AB de Villiers and Marcus Stoinus offered back-to-back catches to gift Shreyas an IPL hat-trick.
Playing a five-over match because of rain delay, RCB slipped from a promising 35-0 in 1.3 overs to 35/3 in two overs. All RR had to do since then was to simply hold on to the catches that were generously offered by the host.
The RCB batsmen were on a suicidal mission and tried their best to create a new record — to be all out in five overs. They might have succeeded if it was a six-over match, but settled for a decent-looking score of 62, all credit to the Kohli cameo at the top.
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The skipper, laughing at his own plight after losing his 10th toss in 13 games, scored 25 off 7 balls.
The rain, which began just before the start of play, relented by 10 pm, but even the Chinnaswamy stadium seemed to be carrying the ill-luck of the home team. With excellent drainage facility which includes a sub-air system, there were expectations of a 10.30 pm start. The officials were, after all, confident of getting the ground and the pitch fit for play in 30 minutes or less.
But rain had its way. Water seeped on to the side of the playing pitch underneath the covers where no super soppers could do their magic.
It was then left to the groundsmen to use all novel ways of drying the wet edges of the pitch. Pitch heater, thick rugs were all used and at 11:10 pm, much to the relief of the patient fans, it was announced that a five-over match would start at 11:26 pm.
But the showers returned for a last laugh.
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