How often has Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers been criticised for their performance in the past few years? Rightly so, they would leak runs like an overflowing tank. However, their bowling unit has done most things right in IPL 2020. The best thing about their bowling department has been the variety in their attack, including Navdeep Saini’s pace, experience of Chris Morris, and the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar. More importantly, someone or the other has always delivered to be counted this season on a consistent basis.
And against Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi, it was the turn of Mohammed Siraj, who replaced Shahbaz Ahmed for this encounter, to break Kolkata’s back with his opening spell of 3-2-2-3. They never recovered from 3/2 and just managed 84/8 in 20 overs. Bangalore reached the target in the 14th over, helping them win by eight wickets and climb to second position on the table.
In hindsight, it was a good toss to lose for Virat Kohli, who also wanted to bat first had he won the toss. With some swing in the offing, Siraj made the most out of it, dismissing Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana with an outswinger and an inswinger respectively. With a spring in his stride, he troubled the top order batsmen with his good line and length.
After losing early wickets, Kolkata were not able to string a good partnership in the middle. The first ten overs of the contest witnessed just two fours and two sixes with the scorecard reading 36/5, which explained their struggle against the quality spin bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar as well. The duo did not bowl any loose deliveries.
The onus fell on Eoin Morgan -- after their key batsmen were back in the dugout -- to guide their team to a respectable total. He played a patient innings with an eye to stay till the end, but Sundar sent him back for 34-ball 30, which made matters difficult. A late 26-run partnership between Lockie Ferguson and Kuldeep Yadav helped them cross the 80-run mark.
Such a score was not going to trouble the strong Bangalore batsmen. If Kolkata had any chance of making a match out of it, they needed early wickets, and Bangalore ensured that it did not happen. After which, it was just a matter of time for Bangalore with the opening combination of Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal scoring 44 runs in the first six.
After the dismissal of Finch, Padikkal was also run out. It did not matter much as Gurkeerat Mann (21 not out), who was promoted to number three, and Kohli (18 not out) saw them home in a comfortable manner.