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A tale of four overs – 6 talking points from a nail-biter

Death overs batting – Could the team have done better?

On a pitch and a smallish outfield which produced 180+ scores from both the teams, 41 off the last 4 overs was well pithing the grasp. On 8 out of 10 occasions, the batting team will be expected to win. Alas! not today. At the end of the day, one has to doff their hats to the death bowling skills of Jasprit Bumrah who was the deciding factor in the game. Bowling the 17th over, Bumrah conceded just 1 and bowled 5 dot balls which included the wicket of the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer. That over was the turning point in the game. Perhaps, Grandhomme should have done better than 2 off 7 batting as a finisher, but facing Bumrah as soon as you come into bat is never going to be easy.

Powerplay batting – Much improved

One of the most disappointing aspect of the previous game against Chennai, was the lack of strike rotation, and hence the build-up of dot balls inside the powerplay. Yes, it was a different surface today, but there was visible intent to buck the trend. 13 dot balls out of 36 in the powerplay, was a marked improvement from the Chennai game, and the powerplay score was indeed a consequence of that positive intent. Batting at the Chinnaswamy, the boundaries are always going to come, even more so as the emphasis is on the bowler to minimise his errors, rather than think about dismissing the batsman.

The fact that the team recognised early on that they needed to score quickly in the powerplay, as run-scoring was not going to be easy during the middle overs, as seen while Mumbai batted, was another positive sign. RCB could not have asked for a better start than 60/1 at the end of the powerplay.

Virat and AB’s approach – An extremely well-paced run chase

Batting was certainly not easy during the middle overs, and Virat and AB De Villiers showed maturity that one would expect of world class players, in rotating the strike and not giving their wicket away in an attempt to accelerate during the middle overs. At the end of 8 overs, RCB were 72/2, and if either of the two superstars had given their wicket away, the game as a contest could well have been over. AB and Virat, with all their experience identified that phase, and built the innings, taking the team to a stage where the contest was well and truly in favour of the home team. To offer some perspective as to how impressive their innings was, think about this – despite seemingly going slow initially, and the boundaries being hard to come by between the 7th and the 10th over, Virat finished with 46(32), and AB De Villiers with 70(41), and the pair scored at a combined run rate of 9.53, against the required rate of 9.4 for the run chase. That stat is even more impressive when you consider that the middle overs was the toughest stage of the innings where they had to consolidate, even at the cost of going well below the required rate.

The powerplay bowling combination – Do Saini and Umesh complement each other?

Navdeep Saini and Umesh Yadav, two bowlers who could hit the 140+ mark consistently, and trouble the batsmen with their pace alone. Two of the most potent wicket-taking bowlers in the RCB squad. When you look at picking a team, one has to look at combinations and how they would work at different stages of a game. What exactly can one expect from a bowler at a certain stage of a game? In T20’s having two wicket-taking bowlers is very much a necessity. But does that mean they can both bowl together? Certainly not. Perhaps, in hindsight, using Umesh and Saini is not the ideal bowling partnership. On their day, they can rattle the opposition batting, but on an off-day, both of them could go for plenty at their pace. Taking an all out attacking approach is a double edged sword.

Chahal – The solution to middle overs woes

The value of taking wickets in the middle overs in a T20 game cannot be stressed enough. Not only do wickets slow down the run rate of the innings in the middle overs, but also considerably reduce the pressure on death bowlers. Yes, Chahal went at 9.5 an over, which included sixes off three consecutive deliveries by Yuvraj Singh. But, the four wickets he picked were well worth their weight in gold. If Pandya scoring 26 single-handedly in the final two overs was bad, imagine having a set Pollard or Yuvraj in the final few overs. Chahal’s approach to bowling in the middle overs was a welcome sight, given that he understood the necessity of picking wickets. Chahal’s intent to pick wickets was evident, as he kept pitching the ball up and throwing it up in the air, trying to induce a false shot from the batsman, despite the fact that there were power-hitters at the other end.

Death bowling – An area which needs to be addressed quickly

The review of the game cannot be completed without talking about the issues at the death. The last two overs, where RCB gave away 30 runs, conceded Mumbai the initiative of the game. The bowling options at the death looks really thin in the absence of Southee, and the inexperience in that department clearly showed, as Pandya took the Saini and Siraj to the cleaners in the last two overs. If not for Mumbai being 7 down after 17.1 overs, MI could have possibly reached well beyond 200. The combination of the three unproven death bowlers does not quite seem right. The difference in the quality at the death, as it turned out was the difference between the teams in the end, and RCB cannot keep ignoring Southee for long. 

Keeping aside all the if’s and but’s, it is not everyday that AB De Villiers bats through to the end and the team ends up losing the game. For that, Mumbai’s death bowling deserves all the credit, and RCB will be a better team from the experience. A game which went down to the last ball, was decided by the last two overs of either innings.