At 34 required off 24 balls, most if not all would have guessed Sunrisers Hyderabad to take away the game. They had two well-set batsman at the crease to wrap up the game before the end of the 20th over. But for the second consecutive game, SRH crumbled in the death and the unheralded Shahbaz Ahmed was the architect of their fall with his three-wicket over. RCB, hence, for the second time in an IPL season, bagged two wins in a row at the start of the tournament to got top of the table.
Did SRH make a mistake not picking Sandeep Sharma?
No bowler has dismissed the RCB skipper more times in T20 cricket than Sandeep Sharma. In 13 innings against Kohli, Sandeep has dismissed him seven times at an average of 10.42 with the batsman making 73 off 55. With Kohli opening the innings for RCB, it was, even more, likelier for Sandeep to get the better of him given his prowess in the PowerPlay. No player has taken more wickets in the first six overs than Sandeep. He has picked 53 wickets in 92 matches in the PowerPlay with a strike rate of 23.32. Four of those dismissals included Kohli where he managed 43 off 37 against Sandeep.
SRH replaced Sandeep with Jason Holder, probably owing to the slow nature of the pitch, as explained by former cricketer Murali Kartik during the pitch report. He conceded 16 runs in his two overs in the PowerPlay where Kohli scored two off three before finishing with 19 off 14 at the end of the phase.
How well did SRH use Rashid Khan?
Rashid Khan was predicted to be the key factor in deciding how much target SRH can set for themselves, given his supremacy over Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell. He has dismissed the trio three times between themselves, conceding 63 runs off 69 balls. With the three batsmen spread across the lineup, it held crucial in how David Warner would use Rashid through the innings.
With Shahbaz Nadeem getting Shahbaz Ahmed in the first over after PowerPlay, Warner brought in Rashid to target both Kohli and Maxwell. Rashid conceded 11 runs in his first two overs - 8th and 10th in the innings - without a wicket. Warner them removed him off the attack to reserve him for De Villiers, whom he has dismissed twice. With Jason Holder removing Kohli in the 13th over, Rashid came back an over later to remove the South African for just 1 off 5 balls. He eventually finished with figures of 4-0-18-2 having dismissed Washington Sundar in his final over.
Should SRH do away with Wriddhiman Saha as opener in Chennai?
Saha has been one of the most prolific openers and PowerPlay batsmen in IPL cricket, the numbers themselves helped SRH promote the wicketkeeper in their playing XI in place of Jonny Bairstow in search for batting depth. And the move proved effective as Saha scored 214 runs in 153 deliveries at a strike rate of 139.9 with two half-centuries. SRH hence opted to continue with him as their opener despite Bairstow returning to form, for the 2021 season. But in two matches so far, he has scored 7 of 6 against KKR and 1 of 9 against RCB, both in Chennai, with just one boundary.
Among all venues where he has at least faced 50 deliveries in IPL, Saha's scoring rate of 6.67 runs per over and boundary rate of 7.6 in Chennai is among the worst. SRH will play three more games in Chennai before moving to Delhi, also a venue where he struggles, with a scoring rate of 5.52 runs per over and boundary rate of 12.5, his worst numbers at a venue.
From 115 for 3 to 132 for 7 - How Shahbaz Ahmed changed RCB's fortune
With a set Manish Pandey at the crease along with an in-form Jonny Bairstow, all SRH needed was 34 off the final overs. But their death-over struggle continued for the second consecutive match as they lost six wickets in a space of just 23 deliveries from the start of the 16th over, for a score of just 27 runs, hence falling six runs short of the target. And the one man who kicked off the proceedings was Shabaz Ahmed. He dismissed Bairstow in his first delivery, Manish Pandey in the second and Abdul Samad for a duck in the final ball. The over ended with SRH needing 34 off 18 with two new batsmen at the crease.
In SRH's first game of the season, against KKR at the same venue, the team had crumbled during their chase of 188. losing their final five wickets for just 30 runs in a space of 22 deliveries.
SRH's struggle in the death overs remain unsolved. Their scoring rate in that phase was 8.62, the least among all teams, and a difference of almost 4 runs from top-placed Mumbai Indians, with a boundary rate of just 5.3, the second-worst after Delhi Capitals.
Have Royal Challengers Bangalore solved their death-overs issue?
In IPL 2020, RCB had conceded at 10.35 runs per over in the death, the fourth-best in the league, with a strike rate of 14.23, the third-worst. Isuru Udana failed to provide RCB with consistency in the death before Chris Morris improved the numbers in the later phase of the league stage.
In this season, after six games, RCB have the best economy rate in the death with 6 runs per over with a strike rate of 4.62 and 13 wickets, five more than second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders. Harshal Patel has been a revelation for RCB this season having picked 7 wickets during that phase at an economy rate of 5.60 and strike rate of 4.29.