It appeared like the Royal Challengers Bangalore were still warming up for the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League.
Put in at the MA Chidambaram stadium here on Saturday, the RCB batsmen came a cropper to succumb to a big defeat against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the lung-opener. The CSK spinners ran riot to skittle out RCB for 70, the sixth lowest total in the tournament’s history.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni seemed to have read the conditions well and played four spinners with Suresh Raina as the fifth option. However, only three – Harbhajan Singh (3/20), Imran Tahir (3/9) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/15) – were enough to complete a thorough domination of their opponents.
The hosts lost opener Shane Watson for a duck and Suresh Raina for 19 yet strolled to the target in 17.4 overs to emerge victorious by seven wickets. The win was extra special for Raina as he crossed 5000 runs in IPL.
For the visitors, Parthiv Patel, with 29, was the only batsman to touch double figures. Incidentally, RCB, with scores of 49 (against KKR in 2017) and 70 (against Rajasthan Royals in 2014) feature thrice in the top ten list of lowest IPL totals.
“No team wants to start like this. But the good thing is a game like this is out of our way. I know the batting effort wasn’t ideal. We still showed good attitude on the field. A scrappy sort of start caused the trouble,” said Kohli after the game.
On a surface not conducive for free flowing stroke play, the CSK bowlers did well to stay disciplined throughout. Deepak Chahar (0/17) and Harbhajan didn’t allow the RCB batsmen to free their arms early on.
Once Virat Kohli (6) was dismissed in the fourth over, RCB’s wheels fell off dramatically. The RCB captain, looking to break the shackles after a quiet start, pulled a short ball off Harbhajan but failed to get the elevation and holed out to deep to mid-wicket.
A patient approach was required if RCB had to reach a fighting total but their batsmen paid the price for their urgency and indecisiveness. After Moeen Ali (9) played a nothing shot and offered a simple return catch to Harbhajan, AB de Villiers (9) departed in an uncharacteristic manner.
In the eighth over, the South African legend had got a reprieve while sweeping as Tahir dropped a sitter at fine leg. In the very next ball, De Villiers attempted the sweep again but didn’t get hold of it. Jadeja completed a simple catch at deep mid wicket and Harbhajan had removed another big fish.
Shimron Hetymer (0), playing his first game for RCB, was run out when he shockingly went for a single after nudging it to straight cover. Shivam Dubey (2), another debutant, failed to read a googly from Tahir and edged it to Watson at first slip. The pitch began to offer good turn and Tahir and Jadeja joined the party for CSK.
The clash of arch-rivals had rightly generated great buzz. But like many highly anticipated contests, it turned out to be a damp squib in the end.