IPL 2020 – SRH eliminates RCB thanks to a masterclass by Williamson
SRH and RCB go head to head in the first elimination match of the season. It has been a completely opposite journey for these two sides through the stages of the tournament. RCB started well and peaked when they beat KKR with 84 runs in 10order tournament match. But since then, it’s been a downhill slide for Kohli’s men. They have lost their last 4 matches in the league, only reaching the knockout round by beating KKR in NRR. The momentum is not with them and that can be seen in the four erratic team changes they made in the qualifiers. What stands out is that they are looking for the right combination to include in the suppressor.
SKSS, on the other hand, blows hot and cold throughout the season. Their lowest point of the season came in their 11th game in the league, where KXIP successfully defended a score of 126 against them. Since then, there has been an unexpected turn when they beat DC, RCB and MI in 3 consecutive games to qualify for the knockout stage. The introduction of Saha in place of Bairstow gave SRH the freedom to use the much underrated Jason Holder and the West Indies changed the game on their own. Saha’s excellence at the top of the line has also given Warner the freedom to attack in the power game. In short, all of their pieces in the jigsaw seem to have fallen into place before the knockouts.
SRH won the throw and picked to the field. However, they were dealt a heavy blow just before the game when Saha in high form was sidelined due to injury concerns. SRH had a similar replacement in Goswami and he was brought in to play on team 11. RCB joined with an additional hitter and 4 spinners. The pitch looked dry and it looked like the right move from the start.
Virat opened the ball with Paddikal – a move that clearly shows that RCB is trying to change things up for shipping. Virat looked cautious during his brief stint on the bend before he was strangled in the leg by a long ball from Jason Holder. The underrated West Indies all-rounder continued to make dents in RCB’s batting formation, as he eliminated the square-footed Paddikal in the next inning to return RCB to power play .
Finch and ABD were left to do the rebuilding and to be honest, it was difficult to rebuild an inning before the excellence of Rashid Khan. Rashid’s steady stream of pokes ensured that neither Finch nor ABD had room outside the tree to exploit the short offside line. Rashid and Nadeem bowled in tandem and made the most of the racquet’s slowness as the pressure of the dotted balls caused Finch and Moeen to play mindless shots and lose their racquets.
ABD was once again RCB’s lone warrior as he teamed up with the likes of Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar to bring RCB to a competitive score. Although the South African genius had been scoring goals for half a century, the pace of the half was much slower than he would have liked and that robbed his team of momentum.
Zaheer Khan’s match with Steve Waugh in the ICC Champions Trophy 2000 was talked about for the next 2 decades. It officially marks the start of Zaheer’s career in international cricket and the same can be said of Natarjan’s match against ABD tonight. Natarajan has specialized as a death pitcher this season and time and time again, he has taken the lead for SRH. However, his match to ABD castle, this one is a match for all time and will be one of the remarkable moments in this year’s IPL. After AB was fired, RCB scrambled for a score of 131, which seems just below average even on a sluggish surface.\
SRH came out with positive intent but missed Saha in the lead. Shreevats Goswami was knocked out early by Siraj and Warner had to switch to his reclusive batting mode once again. However, with a required run rate of just 6.5, Warner’s restricted hitting shouldn’t have much of an impact on the required scoring rate. Just when it looked like SRH would go 42-45 in their power match with just 1 racket loss, Siraj eliminated Warner.
Honestly, I feel the third referee’s decision to declare Warner disqualified was really brave. There is not enough clear evidence to overturn the decision and there is enough doubt as to whether the ball hit the pad or the glove at the point of impact. It was one of those decisions, which could raise eyebrows if SRH lost the battle.
The real game changer for RCB is their twins chahal and Zampa. Zampa has improved quite a bit in terms of line and length accuracy. It’s really commendable to have conceded just 4 times in his first 2 passes against players with good spin like Manish and Williamson. In fact, the choking phase of Chahal and Zampa brought two valuable goals for RCB in the middle round thanks to the work of Pandey and Garg.
The claim rate is in danger of passing 8 when the man of the hour shows up. Williamson is one such player who is loved around the world. Even when he plays against you, you still feel happy when he scores. Tonight he showed the value he brings to the table and why SRH would prefer him playing in 11 over Johnny Bairstow.
Just as Chahal and Zampa were spinning their webs around the SRH polishing, Williamson decided to tackle the problem on his own. He made sure that the percentage of polka dots decreased when he successfully used the drop and run technique. By scoring singles and doubles from every ball, Virat pulled his deep square foot and center racket into the circle. Williamson sensed an opportunity and played two riskless sweeps against two googlies from Chahal and Zampa to lower the scoring rate.
Jason Holder is an underrated player and his record in red-ball cricket with the bat is something that deserves more attention. In fact, a year ago, Holder himself went to the press to claim that he was fully capable of making the top 5, but his bowling workload is preventing him from doing so. Tonight, he played with a seasoned head and handed the job over to Williamson to make sure RCB didn’t work miracles.
Williamson, on the other hand, has played copycat cricket shots to bring his team home for half a century with no chance. Holder’s saves in the final ensured that Kane’s half wasn’t in vain as SRH overcame RCB to reach the second qualifying round of the season. With momentum in their favor, SRH could be the favorites to face off against an out-of-form DC over the next few days.