Royal Challengers Bangalore storm in to CLT20 Semi finals
The Royal Challengers Bangalore entered the semi finals of the 2011 Champions League T20 with a 2 wicket victory, successfully chasing down a target of 214/2 against the South Australia Redbacks at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
They began the match needing an outright win against the Australian side, a feat no IPL side had managed till now in the CLT20 so it was very clear that they would need a special performance to do so.
Redbacks skipper Michael Klinger decided to bat first after looking at the way the Warriors had gone down chasing in the afternoon game. Dirk Nannes has played against them for his domestic side the Victoria Bushrangers in the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash in Australia. The batsmen knew who they were facing and were quiet in the first over, taking only 3 runs, giving no clue of the clinical execution that was to follow.
Aravind failed to carry his improvement from the game against Somerset in to this game and his lines were masterfully manipulated by Daniel Harris. He conceded 28 in his first spell while Nannes had a horror second over, giving 18 runs as South Australia raced to 49 for no loss in four overs.
Vettori and Syed Mohammad came in to arrest the run rate and the skipper immediately set about their work, giving just just 5 runs in his first over. The pressure paid off on the first ball of the next over when Mohammad had Klinger stumped. Only 17 runs came off their spell, a period in which the calm Callum Ferguson played himself in and Harris collected himself after his initial adrenaline burst.
Bhatkal and Kohli came on to bowl and were promptly smashed around by the now warmed up batsmen. The return of Vettori and Syed Mohammad didn’t help; they kept the scoring down but could not pick up any wickets. With the spinners safely played out, the batsmen targeted Aravind who was reintroduced into the attack, Ferguson hitting the first six of the innings. Everything was game and Nannes and Bhatkal were not spared either. The latter had Ferguson caught behind for a brilliant 70 off 43 balls but Harris kept going, bringing up his ton off 58 balls with his second six soon thereafter. Daniel Christian who walked in picked up right where Ferguson had left off, smashing five boundaries in the last over off Aravind, taking the total to 214/2. Aravind’s 0/69 are the second most expensive T20 figures.
Defending champions Chennai Super Kings had imploded the night before facing a similar chase, only their case was worse considering they had to do it within 18 overs to qualify for the semifinals. To be more relevant, the Warriors had succumbed to the pressure of chasing just 146 on this very pitch a few hours ago so the question was how many elements would RCB be fighting to pull off this chase?
Their task was simple, it had been cut out for them really - they just had to go for everything. As with most things where the theory is plain and straightforward, the execution was going to be the hardest thing on earth. They had the personnel to do it however, having Gayle and Dilshan for your opening batsmen helps.
Shaun Tait was back in the Redbacks playing XI after having been dropped for two games for his expensive performance against the Warriors and a lot depended on which Tait would turn up. Would it be the wayward one who could think of no other ball but the short and wide one, the one who threatened to overstep either the popping crease or the sideline with every ball to concede freehits or the one who could home in inswingers to the base of the middle stump at 150 kmph plus, sending stumps cartwheeling while the batsmen still contemplated whether to press forward or stay back in the crease.
Dilshan decided he had no time to find out and went ahead with business, smashing two fours, taking 11 runs off the first over. Nathan Lyon, brought on to see if he could get Gayle early had the big Jamaican’s respect, conceding just 2 runs as the left hander tried to poke and put bat on ball. Normal service resumed in the next over when Williamson bowled onto Gayle’s pads only to see the ball sent over the ropes at long on with a flat six.
They took turns pummelling Christian, Lyon and Williamson till Christian had Gayle caught at mid off for 26 off 15 on the first ball of the 7th over, the score reading 65/1. Michael Klinger had a nasty collision with Tom Cooper, the Flying Dutchman’s knee hitting him in the thigh but he still held on for the very important catch before being going off the field.
Kohli walked in and let it be known once again that RCB weren’t a one man team, getting his first runs with a stunning pull to make sure the over didn’t come cheap for the Redbacks. Aaron O’Brien was assessed in his first over and plundered in his second while Richardson wasn’t even given that much thought before being hit for 14 as the duo kept the Run Rate and the Required Run Rate close together.
The pair followed it up with a stunning display of T20 batting, calculated yet ferocious, according special treatment to their tormentor from earlier in the game. Daniel Harris’ second over went for 25 runs, it included two sixes and three fours, saw the batsmen reach their fifties and brought the RRR below the RR for the first time. The chase had always been on, now it looked possible.
Tait returned to bowl the 15th over, his second over with RCB on 161/1 and seemingly in total command. He looked like he had Dilshan plumb off the second ball but the umpire signalled leg byes, Kohli was put down at midwicket by Ferguson off the following ball but ended the over by having the latter caught at long on. Kohli had made 70 off 36 by then with four 4s and six 6s, he had been the engine the chase had charged on.
Tiwary, Agarawal, Vettori each hit a six each before being dismissed as the match swung from one side to another. Tait removed Tiwary in his third over then Dilshan (with a searing yorker), Vettori and Bhatkal in his final over, finishing with 5/32 leaving RCB 14 from the last over.
Arun Karthik and Syed Mohammad ran for everything, leading to the latter being run out trying to get a bye off the second ball of the over. Aravind atoned for his bowling, partially at least by scoring runs off his tormentor in the Redbacks’ final over- Daniel Christian. He played a scoop for a four off the first ball he faced, took a double off the next and stole a bye off the penultimate ball. Coming off With 6 required off the last ball, Karthik rightly anticipated a slower back, stayed back in the crease and an almighty slog sweep sent the ball into the stands over deep midwicket.
RCB’s group stage began about two weeks ago with heartbreak off the last ball but they didn’t give up, they showed the heart for a fight and ended it with rapture off the last ball tonight.