RCB vs RR: Super Trouper Siraj, Kohli’s charmed life and sloppy Chahal

Emotional Rollercoaster: Hot heads, calm minds and everything in between the IPL game

Super Trooper Siraj

Mohammed Siraj in action vs Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday. (Photo by Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for IPL)

What is the one thing about Mohammad Siraj that impressed Sachin Tendulkar? The spring in his legs, the master said recently. Siraj can hop endless when belting out the RCB song in the dressing room, is a delightful dancer, has rhythm in his walk and, most importantly, can bounce back. Devdutt Padikkal hits a six on the first ball, Siraj traps him lbw on the final ball. The experimental No.3 Ravichandran Ashwin takes two fours off him. The RR dugout looked pleased with themselves. Their ploy to send in a pinch-hitter seemed to have worked. Only for Siraj to burst the bubble. He gets Ashwin, once again on the final ball of the over. The easy run-up, thanks to those well-oiled supple knees and those gazelle-like smooth strides, the dangling gold chain, his chirping presence in the huddle and that full smile that doesn’t need a reason to flash. Siraj, on the field, in the dressing room and the dance floor, can’t go unnoticed. Add one more, even when fielding at mid-on. After those two wickets, he dove forward to hold Jos Buttler’s catch that seemed to be dying on him.

– Sandeep Dwivedi

Hazlewood gets Jos with an H

Josh Hazlewood Josh Hazlewood bowls during the RCB vs RR match at the MCA International Stadium in Pune. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia / Sportzpics for IPL)

Just how do you keep Jos Buttler quiet? He had hammered centuries in his previous two games, to go with another ton and two fifties earlier in the season. After a quiet opening over from the left-arm spin of Shahbaz Ahmed, RCB turned to Josh Hazlewood from that end. If there is a hint of vulnerability in Buttler’s game, it is to the incoming just short-of-driving length ball which he can at times miss, especially when he is in swinging mode.

Hazlewood bowls a serious nip-backer anyway from that Test-match length outside off. And Buttler was in no mood to let him settle into that corridor. First ball from Hazlewood, Buttler was walking out and across trying to go leg-side, but missed. Hazlewood ended the over with another nip-backer to rap Buttler on the pads again. In between, an inside edge ran past the ‘keeper for four.

Buttler has another go-to break-free method, the stand-and-wallop over wide mid-on. And he was ready with the plan to the first ball of Hazlewood’s second over. But the Australian’s heavy deliveries rise awkwardly; Buttler was too committed by then though and could only find a diving mid-on for 8; it was comfortably his lowest score of the season.

– Abhishek Purohit

Kohli’s charmed life

Virat Kohli Virat Kohli walks back to the pavilion after getting out. (Photo by Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for IPL)

A wry smile escaped Virat Kohli’s face. Then he gave his partner Faf du Plessis a half-relieved look. Kohli would have easily perished for his third zero on the bounce, but for a matter of centimetres. Third ball of the Trent Boult over, he flicked a ball off his hips, but straight in the direction of square leg, where Daryll Mitchell was prowling. Fortunately for Kohli, the air-borne ball—lucky that he had not timed the ball as sweetly as he would have in better times—dropped in front of the plunging Mitchell. Boult, whose arms had already begun a high-five, exchanged a disbelieving look at Kohli. The next ball was fired almost at the same spot, but the length was fuller and Kohli crunched it towards the left of Mitchell for a four. Duck averted, but Kohli would have floundered the very next ball. He French-cut the next past the keeper for another four. The frame repeated the next ball, only the edge was not chunky enough to reach the fence or straight enough to the keeper’s grasp. Kohli gazed soberly—he might have had a sense of foreboding that his luck would eventually fizzle out. It did, four balls later, at the hands of Prasidh Krishna.

Sandip G

Sloppy Chahal

Yuzvendra Chahal Yuzvendra Chahal misses a chance to run out Dinesh Karthik. (Photo by Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for IPL)

It was the most straightforward run-out chance you would ever imagine. Dinesh Karthik was not in another postcode but in another hemisphere, The throw was pinpoint accurate, straight into the palms of the bowler, Yuzvendra Chahal. He just had to gather, whistle a few times, wink a few times more and gently dislodge the bails. He could have played the tease. But instead, he was over-eager to see off Karthik, the last man that stood between the Royals and a victory. He made an utter mess of the collection, groping the air and removing the bails even before the ball had reached him, the ball then slipped through his body, and Chahal did his bit of frantic break-dancing to find the ball. All this while, Karthik was not even in the frame—resigned to his fate, he was ambling crease-ward. Realizing that he still had a chance to make the ground, he accelerated. But by then, Chahal somehow discovered the ball and affected the run out, catching Karthik inches short. In pure relief, Chahal then slumped onto the turf.

Sandip G

Batman Ashwin?

R. Ashwin R. Ashwin on Tuesday. (Photo by Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for IPL)

R Ashwin has been in the limelight with the bat this IPL season, for a change. He first ignited the debate over whether T20 batters should retire out tactically after becoming the first one to do so in the IPL, against Lucknow Super Giants. In Rajasthan Royals’ next match, he was promoted to No 3, against Gujarat Titans. Ashwin managed only a run-a-ball 8, but on Tuesday night in Pune, he was back at one-down against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

And this time, he showed why he was sent up amid fielding restrictions; he dispatched Mohammed Siraj for four fours in a nine-ball 17. The flick, the cover-drive, the square-cut, all pleasing on the eye as always; when the ball is coming on, Ashwin can be one of the finest times. It was too good to last, though. Siraj banged in the inevitable lifter, and gobbled up Ashwin’s top-edged heave with some emotion, and perhaps some relief too.

While RR may be finding different roles with the bat for him, trust Ashwin to have made the first move. The only time he had batted at No 3 before this season in T20 was in IPL 2018, when he was then Kings XI Punjab captain. He made a two-ball duck.

– Abhishek Purohit

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