Royal Challengers Bangalore's story in IPL 9 so far has been like a case of déjà vu. On more occasions that not, their batsmen have put up big scores on the board. But, everytime they feel they have enough runs to win, the bowlers come up with an effort poorer than the one before. This was again the case at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Monday. Having posted an impressive 185 on the board batting first, Bangalore had Kolkata Knight Riders struggling at 69 for 4. But, they could not finish off KKR, and the chasing side fought back commendably well to hand Bangalore yet another defeat, after it seemed that they were on course to defend a total.
Clearly, it was the staggering partnership between Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell, which took the game completely away from Bangalore. It is no secret that Pathan and Russell are two of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball. On their day, no run rate can be too daunting for them. And, unfortunately for Bangalore, it was definitely Pathan and Russell's day on Monday. Both used their brute force to great effect to pull off a memorable come-from-behind victory for the side. Pathan hasn't been in great form in recent times, but Monday's effort was definitely a blast from the past. Russell mistimed a few, but also launched some into the stands.
Bangalore would once again rue their inability to contain the opposition under pressure. There were a couple of decent efforts. Yuzvendra Chahal made a good comeback into the side, finishing with 2 for 27. His wickets included the scalps of Chris Lynn and Russell. But, most of the other bowlers were taken for plenty. T Shamsi went for 51 in his four, Shane Watson also conceded over 12 runs per over. And while Varun Aaron was reasonably economical, he did not have the wickets to show. Sreenath Aravind and Stuart Binny did not even complete their quota of overs.
What should please Kolkata most about the victory is the fact that they won a game without much contributions from either skipper Gautam Gambhir or in-form opener Robin Uthappa. Lynn and Manish Pandey also failed. So, Kolkata were in reasonable amount of trouble at one point of time. They did very well to recover from that point. In the bowling, Russell, Morne Morkel and Piyush Chawla were highly effective, but Sunil Narine had an off-day, and went for plenty of runs. What would definitely worry Kolkata though is the lack of control shown by Umesh Yadav towards the end of the innings. It is unacceptable for a bowler of his experience.
There is really nothing much to fault about Bangalore's batting. Once again, they put up a highly impressive score on the board batting first. If anything, the lack of runs from Chris Gayle remains a matter of concern. But, Lokesh Rahul and Virat Kohli carried on their good run, even though the RCB skipper was not as fluent as usual. Watson, Binny and Sachin Baby, all played crucial hard-hitting cameos towards the end. The momentum was with Bangalore at the halfway stage, and the bowlers too began well. But, once Russell and Pathan applied pressure, Bangalore's bowlers faltered again.
--By A Cricket Analyst