Cricket

IPL 2020: Sunrisers' almighty collapse, Padikkal's dream debut and Chahal's star turn, talking points from RCB's win

  • Yash Jha
  • September 22nd, 2020
  • 10:01:37 IST

Matching up to the drama of Sunday’s spectacle was going to be nigh on impossible, but for the third night in a row, the latest season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) provided an absorbing affair – and the happy realisation note that Mondays are going to come with something to look forward to for the next seven weeks!

A bizarre collapse from Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) allowed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to kick-start an IPL campaign on a victorious note for the first time since 2016, as Virat Kohli’s side claimed a 10-run win in Dubai.

Chasing 164, SRH were cruising towards the finish line at 121/2 in 15 overs. But, a disastrous turnaround saw the 2016 champions lose the rest of their line-up for just 32 runs in the space of 26 deliveries – the second-worst eight-wicket collapse for any chasing team in IPL history.

It also meant that RCB had been able to defend a sub-165 total for only the fourth time since the start of IPL 2014.

Here’s a look at some of the key moments from Monday’s clash at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

SRH meet Murphy on opening night

As much as you might want to praise the Royal Challengers for a rare pleasant start to a season, they would know themselves that they got out of jail here.

43 were needed off 29 balls – as run-of-the-mill as T20 chases get – when Jonny Bairstow, who had looked as fluent as anyone has in the three days of action so far in the UAE, decided to go after Yuzvendra Chahal – the one RCB bowler who he was struggling to get after.

Bairstow, while taking only eight from 12 Chahal deliveries he faced, had milked 31 balls from the rest of the RCB attack for 53 runs. So even if he were to play out a maiden and see off the ‘leggie, he would have been the favourite to seal the chase.

The Englishman’s moment of madness was still a self-inflicted ache; for a lot of the rest of the night, in particular as they batted, SRH were crashing into invisible bumps.

Mitchell Marsh’s first IPL outing in four years was pretty much over within four balls of his first over. David Warner – he who had 562 runs from just nine innings for SRH versus RCB – fell to possibly the only good ‘hand’ Umesh Yadav played all evening. Debutant Priyam Garg contrived to deflect an attempted lap on to the stumps via his helmet. And then, Abhishek Sharma and Rashid Khan, the last realistic hopes, collided, ending Sharma’s stay while making the remainder of Rashid’s stay a possibly concussion-induced one.

SRH will hope to not fall on the wrong side of Murphy’s Law this bad in days to come.

No stage fright for Padikkal

A 20-year-old with no international experience walking into an IPL with real hopes and expectations of him is a quite rare occurrence. But Devdutt Padikkal did fall in that rare category.

It’s still under a year since his maiden limited-overs outing at the professional level, but here’s what the left-handed opener had done between September and December 2019: 609 runs in 11 innings during Karnataka’s victorious Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign and 580 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 175.75 in Karnataka’s triumphant Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign.

That’s what fetched an instant base price bid from his hometown franchise, and he followed it up with six half-centuries in nine Ranji Trophy games as well.

Could the shutdown of cricket have affected the young gun’s momentum? On the evidence of his IPL debut, not quite. Padikkal brought out the full range of his hugely-praised strokeplay to pounce on an attack largely comprising the kind of middleweight seam bowlers he feasted upon during his fiery domestic run last year.

He was wise in respecting Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s two overs with the new ball, but the rest of the Powerplay turned into any other Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy game; while he made six runs off eight Kumar deliveries, Padikkal tonked the other 18 balls he faced in the first six overs for 31.

The driving – and the sweet timing on it – was enough to get Kevin Pietersen jumpy in the commentary box. KP wasn’t alone.

Chahal, Saini save the day

The game may have turned on its head thanks to Bairstow’s brain-freeze in Chahal’s final over, the 16th of the SRH innings. But the fact that RCB were still alive in the game – just about – at the point was down to efforts of Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini.

At the end of the 15th over, six overs between Chahal and Saini had gone for 30 runs; the remaining nine overs had cost RCB 91.

Then, Chahal took his day from good to great with the double strike of Bairstow and Vijay Shankar, the latter befuddled by a perfect first-ball googly. And Saini, despite starting the 18th over of the chase with a potentially disastrous five-wides, castled Kumar and Rashid to effectively end the contest.

Between them, Chahal and Saini delivered 20 dot balls in their eight overs, off which SRH only managed 43 runs while being dented five times. The two other full-time bowlers utilised on the night, Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav, leaked 81 runs in 7.4 overs.

It could have been very different for RCB.

What were those selections, SRH?

The Sunrisers have made a penchant of being among the tactically most sound teams in the IPL, well reflected in their ongoing run of four successive playoff finishes. On the opening act of their bid to make it five, they did have Murphy to resent (read above) – but it’s not like they didn’t inflict damage upon themselves even before the game began.

Two fragilities of SRH were well-known coming into the tournament: That they are top-heavy in batting, and quite one-dimensional in bowling.

Their fourth overseas pick was always going to be one of the bigger bones of contention. Kane Williamson was going to be a likely candidate to miss out even if it weren’t for a quad injury sustained in the lead-up to the game. They needed to pick one out of Mitchell Marsh, Mohammad Nabi, and Fabian Allen.

It was quite evident to most viewers that they chose incorrectly.

Nabi was fresh off a magnificent CPL campaign, where he contributed with both bat and ball in a manner that would do wonders to the balance of this SRH setup. Instead, they went with the slightly better-expected batting returns of Marsh – while not paying heed to the addition of another medium-pace option to a very military medium attack.

Almost equally confounding was the decision to keep the most touted hidden gem for this season out of the XI. It’s not that Priyam Garg doesn’t deserve chances, but it was well established that SRH needed a middle-order hitter and not a more traditional batsman. In Abdul Samad, they have an up-and-comer showing signs in a department so alien to most young Indian batsmen, that the J&K teen has everyone salivating.

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long.

Don’t let victory mask tactical troubles, RCB

Yes, RCB have started a season with a win for the first time in four years. Yes, RCB looked a happier unit than we have become accustomed to seeing in these last four years.

But their own selections weren’t without a sense of bafflement either – if anything, SRH may have out RCB-ed RCB, and the performances of two individuals each in both departments managed to paper over several cracks.

The youngest and the oldest components of the batting lineup were half-centurions, with Padikkal powering the start and AB de Villiers doing what he does at the death.

Between them, Padikkal and de Villiers scored 107 runs off 72 balls, with the help of 12 fours and two sixes. The other RCB batsmen combined to make 51 runs off 50 balls, with only one four and two sixes.

RCB, in fact, went 35 balls without a boundary between the 10th and the 16th over to suck out a lot of the impetus that had been provided by Padikkal and Aaron Finch. If you’re 86/0 at the halfway stage with Kohli and de Villiers still in the hut, you ought to be scoring a fair amount greater than 163.

Further down the lineup, the selection of Joshua Philippe didn’t make total sense either. The 23-year-old Australian has made his mark in the Big Bash League almost entirely at the top of the order, so slotting him at five or six doesn’t sit too well. Equally worrisome is the challenge of a young Aussie wicket-keeper having to read subcontinental spinners on tracks in UAE.

If AB de Villiers can take on the ‘keeping duties, which he was clearly preparing for at least in the weeks ahead of the competition, it frees up an overseas slot for Moeen Ali or even Chris Morris to take – and surely, RCB will be getting a lot more out of that selection.

Which takes us to the bowling. As expressed above, it took special outings from both Chahal and Saini to cover up for the ordinariness of Steyn and Yadav. The words ‘death bowling’ are the death knell for most RCB faithful, and what they ought to fear is that the poor returns of their new-ball pair (1/81 in 7.4 overs) were despite the fact that only four of their combined 46 deliveries came in the last five overs of the innings.

For the purpose of addressing their death bowling issues, RCB had shelled out Rs 10 crore on Morris. It is unknown if there were any fitness concerns surrounding the South African, but he’s got to be out on the park as soon as possible for this victory to be more than a one-off. Because as impressive as Shivam Dube’s figures might read, even the most loyal RCB supporter has to know it’s likely to have been an aberration.

Updated Date: September 22, 2020 10:01:37 IST

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