IPL 2016: Expensive Perera, invisible Ashwin, funky Dhoni: Supergiants' defeat plays out all too familiar script

On most days, a target of 191 runs in 20 overs would have been enough. But when playing against any team with Virat Kohli in it, you need an extra 15 runs to shore up your target, particularly at the undersized Chinnaswamy stadium. The Rising Pune Supergiants were felled by a combination of Kohli's class and a thin bowling line-up, despite the butterfingers their batters benefitted from. Here are the biggest talking points from the game:

Royal Challengers Bangalore players celebrate a wicket against Rising Pune Supergiants. BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore players celebrate a wicket against Rising Pune Supergiants. BCCI

Rahane chugs on:

Ajinkya Rahane has copped some criticism over the course of this IPL, most of it unwarranted. He has been accused of scoring too slowly, but in typically khadoos Mumbai fashion, he shook that off and kept scoring runs. On Saturday, he scored his sixth IPL fifty of the season, and hoisted himself to second on the Orange Cap list, with a healthy overall strike-rate of above 130. On Saturday, he scored at a strike-rate of 154.16. Criticise that.

While most people have focussed on Rahane himself, they would do well to keep in mind that he is simply fulfilling the brief given to him by the team management. Coach Stephen Fleming said on the sidelines of Saturday's game that Rahane's role is to bat through. He has been the ballast that has provided stability to a team that has been plagued by injury. All things considered, it is time he got some well-deserved praise, especially considering his consecutive fifties have improved the strike rate as well.

Zampa adds life, Perera snuffs it out:

Adam Zampa was made to wait till the tenth match of the season to earn a place in the starting XI. He made an immediate impact, impressing with his willingness to bowl a fuller length. While leg spinners usually tend to drag their lengths back, Zampa regularly got the ball right under the bat, almost yorking the Bangalore openers on occasion, despite bowling at close to 90 kph. His double strike in the 12th over brought his team back into the game, after a 94-run opening stand. He did concede 18 runs off his last over and ruined his figures in the process, but that is the risk MS Dhoni took by waiting until the death to use Zampa's final over.

Thisara Perera, on the other hand, continued to be a liability in the bowling department. While he has been effective using the long handle to add quick runs with the bat, he has been sporadic in his efforts with the ball. His overall economy rate this year is 9.51, and never has he gone at less than eight. While it must be remembered that he bowls mainly in the powerplay and the death, he has leaked a big over on several crucial junctures. On Saturday too, he conceded 20 runs in his final over to allow RCB a toe in the door. While two boundaries were off genuine edges, the other two were off cut shots, with the field set for full deliveries. However, with only Albie Morkel and Irfan Pathan as the other all-rounder options, Dhoni has few alternatives but to try and get the best out of Perera.

Funky Singh Dhoni:

Dhoni loves the ball that spins away from the batsmen. While captaining the Indian side, it is a common sight to see him swap Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, depending on whether a left-handed or right-handed batsman is on strike. With the Royal Challengers having two left-handers at number five and six, perhaps Dhoni was holding Ashwin back for them. But the middle overs came and went like the clouds that threatened the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and yet there was no sign of Ashwin or (thankfully) rain. It was almost as if, incredulous and unlikely as it sounds, Dhoni had forgotten that he had Ashwin in the team, and only remembered once a left-hander came in to bat.

Dhoni wasn't done being funky though. He held one over from Zampa back, and bowled him in the 18th . He used a short mid-on to the spinners at the death. He had a slip for Ashwin bowling to the left hander (and that is exactly where the ball went). Perhaps Dhoni knew that if he had to stop chase-master Kohli, he would have to veer away from the road oft travelled. It certainly justifies using a leg spinner in the 18th over, and the catching fielders. If they had come off, it would have been hailed as another 'Midas Singh Dhoni' moment. But even in hindsight, the decision to not use Ashwin makes little sense. If you don't get the top four out, no point holding back your best spinner for the left-handers at five and six.

Updated Date: May 08, 2016 13:22 PM

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