Youngsters shine as Warriors snatch thriller
The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s poor tryst with tournament openers at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium continued as they lost the 2011 CLT20 opener by 3 wickets off the last ball of the game to the South African T20 franchise the Chevrolet Warriors on Friday night.
The match was always going to be in the balance after the Warriors managed to restrict them to a gettable score of 172/8 at halftime, keeping the power packed batting line up with crafty bowling and scrappy fielding. Gayle, Kohli, de Villiers, Tiwary and Kaif all got starts but couldn’t convert them into substantial knocks.
The players observed a minute of silence before play in remembrance of the Indian cricket legend Tiger Pataudi who passed away on Thursday night.
Soon after, Lonwabo Tsotsobe drew first blood, getting Mayank Agarwal off a short ball in the very first over. Gayle started the only way he can and was on 23 off 13 balls, when he tried to slap one ball too many out of the ground and was caught at long on. Kohli and de Villiers began the rescue act but were dismissed just as they were getting set.
Their dismissals seemed like a major setback with Tiwary and Kaif being the next batsmen. The duo had a poor IPL but clicked right away here, making enough runs in quick time to help RCB nudge towards a better total. Rusty Theron managed to take 4/29 in three overs as the lower order swung hard, missed most but connected with enough for RCB to post 172/8.
Gayle’s dismissal off a poorly executed pull encouraged the Warriors bowlers to bowl slower short deliveries but Tiwary and Kaif got onto the ploy, waiting patiently for the ball to arrive, winding up tight before really letting it loose with pulls and hooks.
Vettori opted to open with Gayle, an over which was played cautiously for just 3 runs, the over was the only respect that Gayle was to get from the Warriors batsmen. JJ Smuts has a reputation for being an aggressive big hitter in South Africa and he gave a glimpse of that in his knock here yesterday, hitting the first ball of Aravind’s over for a six as the Warriors made their intentions clear. Prince, an unlikely T20 batsman then took on the aggressor’s role, taking a boundary off Aravind and two sixes off Gayle’s next over.
Aravind came back stronger in his second over, giving away just 2, and the introduction of Nannes at the other end tightened up the Warriors. Jon-Jon Smuts fell on the first ball of Aravind’s third over, trying to clear long off all he got was height, Kohli diving for and holding on to a stunner to give RCB a breakthrough. Warriors didn’t give up there, however, with new man Colin Ingram finishing the over hitting a four and a six to keep their chase alive.
Ingram survived a drop by Mithun off Nannes but was caught by the same fielder in the next over, Vettori’s first, leaving Warriors at 57/2. The next over, Syed Mohammad’s first saw him remove the dangerous Mark Boucher for just 1. Kohli dropped Prince in Vettori’s next over when the batsman smashed a full toss straight at him at midwicket but the over went for only 4 runs.
The 3-over stretch had fetched RCB 2 wickets for just 8 runs and Prince relieved the pressure with boundaries off Syed to which Vettori responded by removing Kreusch.
Prince was joined by Botha and their partnership was the sort which RCB missed in their innings. The duo added 73 runs in 6.3 overs, taking on Mithun, Vettori, Nannes and even Gayle. The West Indian’s last over saw Botha hit him for consecutive sixes in his final over, taking 17 off it, grabbing the momentum for the Warriors, leaving him with figures of none for 43 from his four overs.
RCB had bowled out their best bowlers, leaving Mithun and Aravind to bowl the last two. Mithun’s 2nd was a roller coaster of an over; he got the big wicket of Prince (74) and Thyssen but also conceded 12 runs leaving Aravind with 7 runs to defend in the last over.
Aravind began superbly with two dot balls, one slower and one short making Botha go for the big hit on the third ball, only to be caught by Kohli at long on. Boje then took a single to give the strike to new man Wayne Parnell leaving him to 6 off 2. The next ball, a short one, was pulled by Parnell perfectly in the gap between deep midwicket and deep square leg, leaving 2 required off 1. The last ball was hit powerfully to long on. The fielder, Kaif was perhaps a bit too deep and had to run in to collect the ball and his return was wide too, letting the batsmen scramble for two and pull off a heist at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Warriors made 173/7 in response to RCB’s 172/8, both in exactly 20 overs.
It was an intensely competed match where neither team conceded even an inch and fought hard for every advantage. The Royal Challengers Bangalore can take pride in the fact that they never gave up even when the Warriors seemed comfortable in the chase. To their credit, the Warriors never gave up either, giving the 2011 CLT20 the memorable start it required.
RCB will now face KKR on Thursday and will hope to register their first win on their new campaign.