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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Comeback out of nowhere: Royal Challengers Bangalore win six in a row to book playoffs berth

In the IPL playoffs now from nowhere, RCB await either Rajasthan Royals or Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator on May 22 in Ahmedabad

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 19.05.24, 10:10 AM
Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis during the course of their 78-run opening stand that laid the foundation for Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Chinnaswamy in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis during the course of their 78-run opening stand that laid the foundation for Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Chinnaswamy in Bengaluru on Saturday. PTI

Rain did scare Royal Challengers Bengaluru for a while, but they came up with an inspirational performance in this must-win game against Chennai Super Kings at the Chinnaswamy in Bengaluru on Saturday and earned a ticket to the playoffs.

It certainly has been a fairy-tale script for RCB as they were looking destined for another disappointing season at the halfway stage. Yes, the results of other games favoured them, but more importantly, they made sure to win all their contests to keep their playoffs hopes alive.

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The match against the Super Kings was their sixth must-win game on the trot. And RCB won that as well, getting most things right on the field to post 218/5 and restrict CSK to 191/7 to register a well-deserved 27-run victory which moved them up to fourth in the standings with 14 points.

In the playoffs now from nowhere, RCB await either Rajasthan Royals or Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator on May 22 in Ahmedabad.

For the Super Kings, they will have only themselves to blame for being inconsistent right through the season. Even in this run chase, barely anyone barring Rachin Ravindra (61 off 37 balls) and Ajinkya Rahane (33 off 22 balls) seemed to be making any kind of conscious, serious effort to take their team over the line.

Shivam Dube, who had been CSK’s trump card earlier in the competition, looked the same lacklustre as he was in the last few matches. On top of that, his miscommunication with Ravindra led to the latter’s run-out dismissal and made matters even tougher for CSK thereafter.

That aside, on a pitch assisting spinners, part-timer Glenn Maxwell and left-armer Swapnil Singh stepped up quite well for RCB with the former striking off the first ball of the CSK reply to send captain Ruturaj Gaikwad back. RCB have no illustrious spinner at their disposal, so in that regard and in those circumstances, Maxwell and Swapnil did a brilliant job.

So did captain Faf du Plessis. Alongside his 39-ball 54 and featuring in a foundation-laying 78-run opening stand with Virat Kohli (47 off 29 balls), Du Plessis took a stunner at mid-off that sent Mitchell Santner back off Mohammed Siraj’s bowling. That too was one key aspect of the game.

CSK, though, still had their hopes when Ravindra Jadeja and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were at the crease.

When Dhoni smacked Yash Dayal for a huge six off the first ball of the final over, Kolkata Knight Riders and Ahmedabad could well have been back in the latter’s mind when Rinku Singh had smoked him for five consecutive maximums.

This time however Dayal held his nerves, took pace off the ball and accounted for the not-fully-fit Dhoni (playing with muscle injury) off the very next ball. Thereafter, Dayal had ensured the ghosts of Ahmedabad 2023 were buried, while RCB were all smiles.

Earlier, Rajat Patidar (41 off 23 balls)and all-rounder Cameron Green (38 not out off 17 balls) also made vital contributions for RCB. The most important aspect of RCB’s innings was how well Kohli and Du Plessis negotiated CSK’s spin trio of Maheesh Theekshana, Santner and Jadeja.

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