The RCB V2016 Show sees the RCB V2019 go past the blob
When RCB travelled to Mohali after a break of 6 days and announcing Steyn Gun to join the unit to replace the injured Coulter Nile, it seemed like something going right for a franchise that has been wayward both on the field playing with bat and bowl and down on the mentality as well. Virat Kohli, for a change won the toss and put KXIP into batting first. This game put into the warfield, all the players who were shot into limelight into Indian households with their performance for the RCB back in the day. Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh waited to make their ex-franchise regret the moving on part, who already had regretted a lot of things this season. In an unusual to RCB way, they started with three foreigners today and that meant Umesh had the new ball to bowl to the ex RCB duo of Gayle and Rahul. In the very first over, when Umesh trapped Gayle in front with no nodding from the umpire and none of the RCB players even thinking of review, it was clearly visible how visibly down on haunches they had been. When the replays showed to be hitting with three Reds, everyone anticipated the usual RCB folklore of the season thus far to take the proceedings from here on, because giving the Universe Boss a reprieve backfires you, more often than not. And it did with the charismatic Jamaican tonking the ball to all corners of the stand in a fine fine display of strength against a team that saw these onslaughts with love and laughter in those good old days. Yuzvendra Chahal has grown from strength to strength this season showing everyone his class by not afraid of pitching the ball up and has been the shining star for RCB thus far. He knocked over Rahul and Mayank after being hammered for six by both of them and in a season where his Indian wrist mate Kuldeep has struggled to really get going, his form might well augur well for the Indian Cricket team, especially when he was out to undo an image of a second choice spinner. Navdeep Saini has been impressive too in the pace department and he gave Gayle nothing away in a sensational spell where his pace counterparts were mercilessly slaughtered. With Gayle stranded on 99, KXIP set RCB a target of 174. A target of 174 was not big, considering the pitch in Mohali, but given that Bangalore’s confidence was at a nadir given their 0-6 start to the season, the chase could have proven tricky. Virat Kohli walked out with a steely resolve to get his team off the mark and he did so in typically authoritative fashion. He almost chipped one to hand at mid-on in the very first over, but smashed back-to-back fours as soon as Mohammed Shami came into the attack. He was happy to take the back seat when Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers were running the show, but ensured the scoreboard kept moving by rotating the strike. Bangalore were 44 for 1 at the end of four overs, with Kohli scoring 25 off them. A rate of 11 runs per over chasing 174 was a big box ticked as it eased the pressure on the rest of the batting line-up. Kohli pounced on Murugan Ashwin and hit successive fours in the final over of the powerplay, taking the six-over score to 63/1. With the field spreading, Kohli turned into an accumulator and was happy to milk the bowling and completed his 35th IPL fifty in the 11th over. He celebrated the milestone by raising his bat and repeatedly punching the team crest on his chest. This meant a lot to him. He shared a fifty partnership with de Villiers and hung in there till the 16th over, when he was dismissed for 67 by Shami off a pull shot. His dismissal spiked the pressure levels in the camp, but de Villiers and Marcus Stoinis were able to build on the set platform to see their side through. KXIP have now been handed their first defeat at their home since 2017 and RCB and their supporters will believe this is the start of a sensational turn around of fortunes and results for their team. An in-form Kohli and ABD is a sight every cricket fan would dream to behold, and if that can inspire the rest of the dugout as well too, things may well change for the better. They next take on MI at the Wankhede, a ground they have been deep in love with. KXIP on the other hand might well be on their track to falter and concede a good start like last season by trying too much experimentation. Their all out buy at the auction namely Varun is warming the bench and their mystery spinner of Mujeeb has not been trusted to start most of the games which is a rarity considering the quality of spin bowling he brings to the fore. Ashwin has to find ways to be tactical and not over experimenting with the squad, else a usual heartbreak may be on the cards of the newly branded ‘Sadda Punjab’. RCB meanwhile have to take one game at a time to go past the daunting challenge to face next up when they take on MI, KKR and CSK. They have the start, they got the reason to believe, but do they really believe Yet? We are about to find out as the rivalry week kicks off starting today.