When a couple of brutal, marauding strongmen armed with sturdy clubs go on the rampage, the last place to be is in their path. This probably echoed the sentiment of Royal Challengers Bangalore's bowlers on Monday night when Kolkata Knight Riders' Indo-West Indian duo of Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russel laid thick into them in an IPL encounter at the M Chinaswamy Stadium.
It was a pasting that Tabraiz Shamsi, Varun Aaron and Shane Watson will never forget, not in this lifetime. There were absolutely no positives to take away for these bowlers after their three match-defining overs cost the team a whopping 58 runs.
The trio blanked out when waylaid and their body language resembled that of hapless victims resigned to their fates. They just wanted the flogging to done and over with so that they could escape the spotlight and hide in some far corner of the ground.
Shamsi, the South African T20 specialist, was clueless about what line and length to bowl against batsmen hell bent on depositing his feeble offerings deep into the stands. At times it looked like the KKR duo was actually attempting to dispatch the ball into the newly-opened metro station beyond the North-West corner of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Shamsi's length deliveries were simply pinging off the meat of the monstrous wonder willows of Russel and Pathan, and there was nothing he could do about it.
However, until the ambush was sprung in the 15th over, RCB actually had reasons to be content. They had KKR pegged down at 105 for four from 14 overs, 81 runs adrift of the target. At that stage, RCB must have been entertaining hopes of a confidence-boosting win. And that's when the twist in the tale came about. In a matter of just three overs, RCB's goose was truly and well cooked in front of a sell-out crowd.
As the bewildered Shamsi took a beating, conceding 18 runs off the 15th over, RCB reckoned that Aaron did not have the head to bowl at the death and hence pressed him into service in the next over. The speedster had done a fair job in his first three overs, conceding just 18 runs. However, his fourth over was death itself. The pressure of bowling to two savage hitters focused on ripping the heart out of his fight was too much for him. Two wides at the start of that over betrayed his nervousness. It blew a massive hole in RCB's self-assurance and it was all downhill from then on. That over went for 16 more runs.
Skipper Virat Kohli, now desperate to retrieve the situation, threw the ball to Watson, perhaps expecting the former Rajasthan Royals bowler will tame his erstwhile teammate Pathan, but it worked the other way. The momentum had already slipped in the previous two overs and Watson’s essay only served to hasten the descent into ignominy.
Pathan creamed him for 24 runs and each blow sounded like nails being hammered into a coffin. The sequence of the bludgeoning — 4,4,4,6,2,4 — revealed the ineffectiveness of Watson's attempted yorkers, bouncers and leg-cutters strategy.
RCB's leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who got admirable purchase from the pitch, finally had Russel mishitting to be caught in the deep. But it was too late to alter the course of the match. KKR chased down the 186-run target to win with five balls and five wickets to spare. They were also helped by the 13 wides sent down by RCB's bowlers.
RCB, who have just two wins from seven matches now, however, must be pleased at the continued success of KL Rahul (52, 32b, 6x4, 2x6) and Kohli (52, 44b, 4x4). But what must have thrilled them to bits would have been the hefty blows struck at the death by middle-order batsmen Watson (34, 21b, 5x4, 1x6), Sachin Baby (16, 8b, 2x4, 1x6) and Stuart Binny (16, 4b, 1x4, 2x6). It took them to a fighting total of 185. It was just that KKR's more menacing middle-order duo of Russel and Pathan aced them.
The loss left RCB with just two wins at the halfway stage of their campaign and unless there is a substantial improvement from the bowlers in the second half this could be yet another forgettable IPL year for this squad of big-name individuals.
Updated Date: May 03, 2016 16:55 PM