Royal Challengers Bangalore crashed out of the IPL after they endured a collapse in the middle of the innings while chasing a par score of 165 against Rajasthan Royals. Shreyas Gopal took out the cream of RCB’s batting line-up and had them in a tangle with his loopy leg breaks. He finished with four as RCB fell way short.
In Hyderabad, Sunrisers Hyderabad conceded another loss, this time to Kolkata Knight Riders, as the visitors, spurred by a solid performance from their top three, won the match and ensured their qualification. Here are the best moments from Saturday's double header.
When Rahane pulled an Ashwin card
Whether he tried to salvage Rajasthan Royals’ season by trying to find a Sunil Narine of their own or the R Ashwin-way to be “unpredictable”, only Ajinkya Rahane would know. But much to the bemusement of fans, Rajasthan Royals started off their innings at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium with Jofra Archer opening. No, not opening the bowling, opening the batting!
The West Indian is known to give the ball a sound whacking from down the order but hasn't once batted inside the powerplays in T20 cricket. Rahane, who has experimented a lot with the opening position this season, thought it was the right time to force Archer to turn into Narine. However, the move came apart within 10 balls.
Archer departed for a four-ball duck and left Ajinkya Rahane to face a fairly new ball. He had barely middled anything at all in his short stay at the crease and Rahane's tactical nous.
Umesh Yadav almost snaps three in an over
Indian seamer Umesh Yadav has found a new lease of life this season with Royal Challengers Bangalore, excelling in the powerplay overs with his movement off the deck. His 14 wickets in the powerplays are the most by any bowler in this period by a fair margin. In fact, he is the only one with more than 10 wickets in the first six overs this season.
On Saturday, he got rid of a promoted Archer in the powerplays but his bigger influence came with Rajasthan running away with the game courtesy Rahane and Rahul Tripathi. Umesh returned to the attack and scalped Rahane with the ball tailing back into the batsman pretty late. Rahane was caught on the move and was trapped in front of the wicket.
Umesh followed it up with the scalp of Sanju Samson, who carelessly flicked the ball to short mid-wicket off his very first ball. With Rajasthan on the backfoot all of a sudden, Umesh trapped Heinrich Klaasen in front with another beauty two balls later but the batsman had got an inside edge onto the pads. He reviewed and overturned the decision but Rajasthan's momentum had been wrecked.
The Gopal-Klaasen tie up
Walking into the XI after Jos Buttler’s departure, Heinrich Klaasen made an instant impression with his swift keeping behind the stumps. With Shreyas Gopal giving the ball some real rip, Klaasen had to be on top of his glovework to catch the proactive Royal Challengers’ batsmen on the move.
He was ultra-quick in stumping Parthiv Patel and followed it up with another fabulous bit of glovework behind the stumps to dismiss Mandeep Singh. Gopal beat the RCB middle-order batsman with flight and Klaasen did the rest. But perhaps the biggest moment for both Gopal and Klaasen came when they combined for a third time to send back the biggest thorn in their flesh, AB de Villiers.
Beaten all ends up by a googly, de Villiers ventured outside the crease, was left stranded and Klaasen completed the stumping insanely quickly to catch the RCB talisman short. The exceptional combination of Gopal and Klaasen all but cleaned up RCB's middle-order and with it, their chances of making it to the playoffs.
The knock on the head that turned a switch
Shreevats Goswami had a golden opportunity on his hands when sent in to open the batting for Sunrisers Hyderabad. With Shikhar Dhawan and Alex Hales or Dhawan and Kane Williamson the obvious choices at the top, the Goswami promotion was in all likelihood a mere experiment to fit in an extra overseas all-rounder.
Whatever it was, it turned out pretty well for Sunrisers and Goswami. It may not have without an Andre Russell bouncer smacking him on the head and reminding him that he had to grab this chance come what may. Batting on 1 off 2 balls, Goswami received a blow on his helmet from Russell and the ball went to the slip cordon with the umpire judging him out.
On review the decision was overturned but the ball apparently flicked on a switch on his brain. The wicketkeeper batsman slaughtered Russell for a six on the next ball and followed it up with three fours to end the over with four successive boundaries. From there, he gained enough momentum to make a 26-ball 35 and put Sunrisers Hyderabad in two minds about their first choice openers.
When Rashid Khan almost spoiled Pandey's party
Tag team catches are so normal at boundary ropes these days that you see one almost every other game. On Saturday, Chris Lynn was going all guns blazing in Kolkata Knight Riders’ run chase with a fine half-century. Siddharth Kaul sent him back when Lynn spanked a half volley to wide long-on and Manish Pandey completed a dramatic catch.
Pandey at long-on had to cover some distance to get to the ball, did so, caught the ball and jumped over the ropes while throwing the ball up in the air. Rashid Khan, who had come in from deep mid-wicket, jogged in nonchalantly and looked set to take the catch when Manish Pandey, who had jumped back in, litterally stole ball from his hands to complete the catch. The catch could well have been dropped with the hands of the two players almost colliding.