Royal Challengers Bangalore read the surface accurately, made suitable changes and orchestrated an emphatic victory over Kolkata Knight Riders. Mohammed Siraj won’t sting on flat decks, but on a surface that offered early assistance for swing bowlers, he swung and stung, his three-wicket haul reducing Kolkata to 84/8, a target Bangalore overhauled without fuss.
For much of Kolkata Knight Riders’ shambolic innings, it had been hard to fathom that a T20 match was underway. This was everything T20 cricket wasn’t alleged to be — swing, maiden overs, spin, short-leg, wickets, referrals. It seemed five-day cricket camouflaged in bright attire.
At the guts of this most unusual evening was Siraj, whose existence during this edition, or within the league, was little quite a comma, or at the best a semicolon; to be paused over briefly before being leaped over and forgotten. Until Wednesday. In three overs of immaculate control and precision for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Siraj made a robust statement of his prowess, which is to seam and swing the ball. He won’t have the gift of pace or the dint of fancy variations. But provided a touch of assistance, he could deal painful blows.
In those overs that broke the rear of Kolkata Knight Riders — including two maidens, two runs and three wickets — Siraj furnished a masterful account of the way to harness the modest assistance that the surface offered. He began with the wicket of Rahul Tripathi, who has the tendency to play faraway from the body. Siraj sucked him into a loose dab outside the off-stump, before making the ball move a bit away after pitching. it had been again the length, short-of-good length, that sowed doubts in Tripathi’s mind. He was neither on the front foot nor back. Siraj isn’t express pace but fast enough to stop batsmen from propping forward with impunity.
The next ball, he fooled Nitish Rana with inward movement. Right-handed bowlers who could swing the ball into left-handers are a precious commodity. It’s harder for the batsman if the bowler could welcome him with such a delivery. Siraj did exactly that, the ball ducking into Rana after landing. This time, the ball was fuller. He alternated his lengths between good and back-of-length, but didn’t overdo either.
Not every ball swung, making decision-making all the harder and foot-movement tentative. Tom Banton’s dismissal would attest. The dashing England batsman, who had settled in nicely with a six and 4 , hung back expecting a short-of-length ball. But it clothed to be fuller delivery, which he tried to drive. But his front foot was thus far faraway from the ball that he outside-edged to the keeper. From 3-2 and 3-3 after Navdeep Saini had nabbed the scratchy Shubman Gill, Kolkata shrunk to 4-14 in 3.3 overs. There was no escape route from that precarious position. Siraj returned to end his fourth over, during which he conceded six, but his spell of 4-2-8-3 is that the most economical in IPL history.
Chahal spins and skins
Planning against Dinesh Karthik lately seems as simple as introducing your leg-spinner as soon as he strides out. Karthik’s head, it seems, goes spinning the instant he sees them. Before this match, leggies had dismissed him fourfold in eight outings this edition. He made it fifth, when Yuzvendra Chahal pinged him ahead with the only of two-trick routines.
He spun one ball faraway from him, and therefore the next into him. Karthik was clueless — he just thrust his bat forward, hoping that it had been the leg-break. Instead, it had been Chahal’s wrong’un that beat the within edge and struck the rear pad. Karthik thought he was safe when the umpire repelled the appeal, just for a last-ditch referral to overturn the choice . Karthik looked sheepish, sort of a self-aware man who knows he’s terribly out of depth.