Maxwell’s switch hits, Harshal’s hat-trick hands MI a heavy defeat

MI vs RCB (Image source: Twitter)
MI vs RCB (Image source: Twitter)

Royal Challengers Bangalore 165 for 6 (Maxwell 56, Kohli 51, Bumrah 3-36) beat Mumbai Indians 111 (Rohit 43, Harshal 4-17, Chahal 3-11) by 54 runs

Someone ought to wake up Mumbai Indians (MI) and tell them that this is not the start of the season but the second leg of the interrupted Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. In their own languid style, that the MI fans have got used to over the seasons, whereby MI walks through the 1st few matches and picks up pace later. Having won 4 of the 7 matches in the first leg, they were doing just about that. However, as the season re-started in the UAE leg, MI are still to find their feet and are lazily trudging along. With 3 losses of the 3 matches played here so far, MI have dug themselves in a hole.

On the other hand, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) neatly bounced back with a comprehensive win and for the first time in the IPL history, defeated MI twice in the same season.

Earlier in the evening, MI won the toss & had no hesitation in electing to field first, which looked like a good hard wicket to bat on but would have an effect of dew later. Hardik Pandya walked in for Saurabh Tiwari while RCB also effected 3 changes.

Kohli could have been out in the second ball of the match if Rahul Chahar had held on to a tough chance on the boundary. He is not the swiftest of fielders but the fielding placing looked out of place from ball one. Hardik dropped Kohli much later in a match, going for an exaggerated dive to the front when a simple tumble would have sufficed. If you drop Kohli twice, he will make you pay but luckily for MI, the 2nd drop was not as costly as the 1st. Devdutt went on a 0 in Bumrah’s 1st over but that set the tone for Srikar Bharat to chance his arm and the opportunity to stake a claim for number 3 spot in RCB line-up.

At the end of the power play, RCB were happily placed at 48/1. He made a useful 33 off 24 balls and at the halfway mark RCB would have been happy with 88/2. Inexplicably, Kohli slowed down after his initial burst, similar to what he had done in the previous match. If he was setting himself for the long innings with Maxwell going for his reverse & switch hits with aplomb, it was not to be, as Kohli threw his wicket soon after reaching his 51 in 42 balls. His first 15 balls, got him 28 runs & his next 25 balls fetched 22.

ABD did not last long and despite lusty hitting by Maxwell (56 off 37), RCB limped to 165 / 6 in their allotted 20. Some wonderful death bowling by Bumrah accounting for Maxwell & ABD off consecutive deliveries and Boult’s 20th over, made it look like RCB were at least 15 to 20 runs short of where they could have ended up.

That RCB won the match with a huge margin of 54 runs was a testament to the bowling brilliance of Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel much as to the vaunted MI batting faltering and failing yet again. Rohit & Quniton de Kock got off to a brisk start with minimum frills and risks. With 56/0 at the end of the power play, MI looked pretty and in line for the vital 2 points.

The introduction of spin in form of Maxwell & Chahal, applied the brakes immediately. Chahal outfoxed QDK (24 of 23) in his first over as he went for an expansive drive, only to spoon a simple catch. Ishan Kishan looked out of sorts and yet drilled back a rocket shot right into the wrist of non-striker Rohit who took a nasty blow. Couple of balls later, Rohit (43 in 28) was out holing out to the deep. Ishan followed soon after but with MI at 93/3 at the end of 13 overs and needing 73 off 42, with Hardik and Pollard still in the dug-out, MI were still the favorites. Krunal danced down the wicket & missed an innocuous delivery from Maxwell and was bowled. Suryakumar Yadav was his unusual self and chased what would have been a wide delivery and spliced a simple chance off Siraj.

Then came the Harshal magic show. He bowled the slower balls with such regularity that the batsman would have been better off playing him for slower one, rather than as a variation. Even then, he got Hardik and followed it up with Pollard & Chahar for a well rounded hat-trick! Pollard’s wicket was absolutely well thought of one, as they kept bowling to him consistently on his pads & away from his offside arc. Most Indian batsmen would have gleefully taken the ball on the pads and deposited them on the stands but Pollard does not have that stroke. He kept struggling and was eventually bowled by Harshal as one of his hat-trick wickets.

Harshal had taken 5 of MI’s wickets in the 1st leg and 4 today. Happy hunting opponents for him. Chahal had to make a statement after his omission from the T20 World Cup squad and he announced his intentions in style. Kohli on his way to his fifty reached a colossal landmark of 10,000 runs in T20 cricket – 1st Indian & the 5th overall to get to the milestone.

MI slumped from 79 / 1 to 111 all out in just 18.1 overs. Only the openers got into the double figures & the rest of MI batting scorecard resembled a mobile number from batting positions 3 – 985730050. Abysmal! MI have left with no choice but to quickly regroup and win all of the 4 remaining league games. Pollard and Hardik will need to come to the party soon. For RCB, they are comfortable at the moment but will be wary of slip-ups. Their bowling, other than Yuzi, looks shaky. Harshal is the leading wicket taker but needs support. ABD at so low down the order does not make much sense. He has not yet contributed and he will be eager to explode soon.

Loss of form & application of some of the players will be a huge cause of concern not only for MI but also for the Indian team management. 6 of the MI players are in the World Cup squad. 5 of them look to be a certainty in the playing XI. Ishan Kishan, SKY, Hardik look completely out of sorts and with the World Cup around the corner and on the same grounds, things don’t augur well for the Indian team. It was very refreshing however, to see Kohli spend some nice quality time with young Ishan after the match and I am sure would have given him some good advice and experience. The role of Dhoni as mentor now gains more depth.

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