Royal Challengers Bangalore have proven to be an absolutely fascinating side this season so far, ending their Chennai campaign of the ongoing IPL 2021 with an unbeaten streak of three wins. An all-round performance from RCB helped them beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 38 runs at the Chepauk to go top of the table. The bowlers, inspired by Harshal Patel, adjusted immensely to the slowness of Chepauk while Glenn Maxwell, as Virat Kohli described, "has taken to this team like duck to water", with his second consecutive half-century this season.
Glenn Maxwell is back!
On this Chennai track, batters found it difficult to time the ball as Maxwell explained later saying that "it became hard to time the ball as the innings went on", the Aussie cashed in on the new ball amid fielding restrictions. He took on Shakib Al Hasan early in in the innings to score two boundaries before smashing Varun Chakravarthy for a six and a four in the eighth over en route to his 28-ball half-century, his second consecutive this season and ninth in IPL, before finishing with 78 off 49, laced with his nine boundaries and three sixes, his highest score in the tournament since the 2014 edition.
RCB have reaped the rewards by giving Maxwell the responsibility of a No.4 batsman. 46 of his 82 knocks in IPL have been at either No.3 or 4, where Maxwell has scored 1183 runs at a strike rate of 163.2 with seven half-centuries. Lower down the order, his strike rate falls to 139.1 with just one half-century. In the last two IPL seasons, Maxwell played 15 of his 23 innings at No.5 and 6 where he scored 188 runs in 155 balls at a strike rate of 121.3. Only five times did he bat at No.3 or 4.
De Villiers wins Russell match-up, again
Varun Chakravarthy, after bowling his two overs early in the innings, was removed from the attack to reserve for De Villiers. Although, he bowled just three deliveries to the T20 maverick last season, leaking only a single, Eoin Morgan wanted to make the most of De Villiers' vulnerability against leg-spin bowling, against which his strike rate in IPL in the last two seasons has been 121.1, the least against any bowling type. After conceding three singles against De Villiers in the 13th over, the South African smashed him for two back-to-back boundaries.
Morgan then introduced Russell, his best death-bowling option for this season, despite De Villiers' superior record against the pacer - 87 runs off 35 balls without a dismissal in IPL. However, Russell's strategy to target from around the wicket this season was what might have urged Morgan to gamble. But De Villiers prevailed, in top-class fashion, scoring five boundaries and two sixes against Russell, en route to his death-over blitzkrieg.
Was KKR correct in sending Dinesh Karthik ahead of Shakib?
57 per cent of his T20 batting innings have come at No.4 and 5 where he has scored over 1000 runs and all his career's five half-centuries. Only 29 times of his 120 appearances has he batted below that position. But on Sunday, KKR sent Karthik, a proper T20 finisher, at No.5, ahead of Shakib, probably for a left-right batting combination alongside Morgan. And the move backfired as Yuzvendra Chahal bamboozled Karthik with an impressive googly in just his fifth ball of the innings.