Lead image: AFP
Royal Challengers Bangalore have now won [*double-checks notes*] four of their last five games!
No prizes for guessing who was the star. At least with the bat. AB de Villiers wowed the Chinnaswamy faithful with an unbeaten 82 off 44 balls as Kings XI Punjab laid out a generous buffet of help-yourselves at the death.
Punjab’s batsmen then made a match of it. Almost. But with a tail that is longer than Rapunzel’s hair, they couldn’t recover from some timely strikes by the RCB bowlers.
Umesh Yadav. Yes, yes, de Villiers played a brilliant innings. But he did such an AB thing. Umesh? Not many might have expected him to turn the game around with his death-overs bowling.
The fast bowler has gone at nearly 10 an over this season. His first two overs on Wednesday panned out similarly, costing 21, although it came with the wicket of Chris Gayle. When he came back on for the 18th over, Punjab were cruising at 167-3 in a chase of 203.
Umesh then bowled the over that turned the match. Giving zero room to the batsmen, he had Nicholas Pooran and David Miller swinging for very little. The over cost six. He could even have had a wicket but for Marcus Stoinis putting down a simple catch at long-on.
The over broke the back of the KXIP chase. By the time he came back for his next – the innings’ last over – both Miller and Pooran were gone. Umesh then sent Punjab further down a trench by snuffing out R Ashwin and Hardus Viljoen with successive balls. Umesh had 26 runs to defend – which isn’t as much as it seems to be, given what happened between him and MS Dhoni the other night – but he gave away just nine.
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Angry send-offs. Virat Kohli is perpetually angry. When his team loses, he is understandably not amused. When umpires make mistakes, he is seething and reminding them that the IPL isn’t club cricket. When his team’s winning, he is still blowing a fuse.
On Wednesday, he gave quite the send-off to R Ashwin, the opposition captain. Ashwin had struck the first ball of Umesh’s last over for six over long-on. When he tried repeating it next ball, Kohli was waiting expectantly and pouched a catch in front of the boundary. Even as Ashwin turned around to walk back, Kohli seemed to furiously gesticulate, as if to ask, “What the hell are you doing?” And from what those looking on could make out, it also seemed to involve a Mankad gesture.
If Ashwin is to be believed, it’s all in the good name of passion. “It’s as simple as that,” as he would go on to say at the post-match press conference. We’ll probably never know what that means. But we do know that win or lose, Kohli’s face is probably going to be as red as RCB’s jersey.
What they said
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“What a superstar, eh? He showed again how good he is and I definitely had the best seat in the house.”
– Marcus Stoinis is star-struck by a certain team-mate (No, not Kohli).
What they didn’t say
“Sorry skip, I won’t do it again.”
– R Ashwin to Virat Kohli on the Mankad at the post-match, erm, pleasantries
Kolkata Knight Riders face Rajasthan Royals at home. Rajasthan are generally considered the nice guys of the IPL, so you might not expect to see Kohli-like anger. But don’t be so sure – this is the team that made Rahul Dravid hurl his cap at the ground.