RCB vs RR: Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Rajasthan Royals to strengthen playoffs spot claim


Playing risk-free cricket, devoid of anything flashy, Srikar Bharat and Glenn Maxwell came together and dismissed the Rajasthan Royals (RR) attack, taking Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) home by seven wickets in Dubai on Wednesday. Chasing 150, Maxwell played a lively knock of an unbeaten 50 off 30 balls while Bharat slammed 44 off 35.

After RCB captain Virat Kohli’s (25 off 20 balls) innings was cut short by a direct hit from Riyan Parag in the seventh over, that saw him being run out, Maxwell and Bharat ensured nothing else went wrong. With this win, RCB have further strengthened their hold in the top-four while RR find themselves in a do-or-die situation in the race for a playoffs spot.

Earlier, after winning the toss RCB had a fresh pitch to exploit and a solid bowling battery at disposal that proved too good for RR. Kohli & Co had little difficulty on their way as they eliminated the growing threat of Evin Lewis and soon after took control, restricting Royals at149/9. Of course, it helped that the RR’s middle-order was terribly out of form.
Spinners Shahbaz Ahmed and Yuzvendra Chahal did the maximum damage and cut down the middle order like grass beneath a mower. Later in the 19th over, Harshal Patel, the Purple Cap holder, joined the party and strangled the lower order with three quick wickets of Riyan Parag, Chris Morris and Chetan Sakariya.

Lewis announced his arrival in the IPL with a destructive knock of 58 off 37 balls giving Royals a flying start. Putting up an exhibition of fiery shots, the brand of cricket he showcased at the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League, the West Indian along with Yashavi Jaiswal (31 off 22 balls) ensured an easy passage for the middle order to put a respectable total on the board.

But the game changed in RCB’s favour after the14th over when in-form Sanju Samson (19 off 15 balls) was dismissed by left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed. Rahul Tewatia’s wicket followed on the last ball of the same over. In his attempt to sweep, he top-edged and was caught at the deep backward square. The RR openers had upped the ante when Kohli introduced Maxwell, taking the score to 56 at the loss of no wicket in the powerplay.

It was with a 96m hit by Jaiswal that got the scoreboard moving and Maxwell’s first over went for 13 runs. Rookie George Garton, who was making his IPL debut after replacing Kyle Jamieson, was taken to cleaners in his second over as Lewis ripped him apart, fetching 18 runs.

But the debutant came back strong and cleaned up the dangerous looking Lewis with a slower delivery that caught the top-edge and wicketkeeper Bharat took a clean catch.

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