Victoria ambush Bangalore

Royal Challengers fate hang in balance after seven-wicket defeat to Aussie outfit

 
With their star all-rounder sitting in the dug-out nursing a side strain, their batting diffident, their bowling neither incisive nor disciplined and their fielding ragged, Bangalore’s favourite sons slid to an embarrassing defeat in their League Phase opener of the Champions League, all but playing themselves out of the tournament.

Victoria Bushrangers, enjoying a headstart by virtue of their two carried-forward points, meanwhile all but secured their semifinal slot courtesy their commanding seven-wicket triumph with 25 deliveries to spare on an anti-climactic Thursday night at a less than packed Chinnaswamy stadium.

Defending a modest 127 for six, RCB saw the Bushrangers rattle along to 133 for three, David Hussey finishing things off in style with three sixes in Anil Kumble’s final over.
Minus the inspirational and the in-form Jacques Kallis, the Royal Challengers didn’t exactly appear like a rudderless ship, though the spark of inspiration needed on the big occasion was conspicuously absent.

Things began reasonably well when Kumble won a third consecutive toss and again opted to bat; the promising start provided by the robust Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa was no more than a false dawn as a majority of the other batsmen failed to find any fluency or momentum.

On the slowest Chinnaswamy surface of the tournament, only Rahul Dravid of the middle-order showed the application necessary to negate the intelligent Bushrangers bowlers, of whom Andrew McDonald was outstanding in his summing up of the conditions and excellent change of pace, a weapon used tellingly by the predominantly seam-oriented Victorian attack.

It helped, too, that on a drying surface, left-arm spinner Jon Holland was impeccable in his control, getting the ball to grip and fizz and never providing any leeway throughout his unchanged four-over spell.

Where Holland went wicketless, McDonald struck once in each of his four overs for figures of four for 21, the best in the Champions League to date and winning him the man of the match award even as Shane Harwood, Peter Siddle and Clint McKay complemented him admirably.

Initial burst

Pandey’s initial burst and Dravid’s diligence insufficient to propel them to a total in the region of 160 that would have been most competitive in the conditions, Kumble assumed new-ball duties but without luck as Rob Quiney and Brad Hodge got stuck in, approaching the small target with ferocity rather than circumspection.

Dale Steyn, coming in for Vinay Kumar, was all over the place, allowing Hodge to race away as the Bushrangers got off to the ideal start with an opening stand of 48 (39b), immediately followed by another association of 47 (32b) between Quiney and Aiden Blizzard.

Hussey hastened the end, driving the final nail in the RCB coffin though ironically, it’s the Bushrangers alone who can take RCB through to the semis if they stay undefeated and other results go the Bangalore team’s way, starting with a win against the Delhi Daredevils on Saturday. A tall order, that.

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