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Recent Match Report – Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore 33rd Match 2020

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Royal Challengers Bangalore 179 for 3 (de Villiers 55*, Kohli 43, Padikkal 35) beat Rajasthan Royals 177 for 6 (Smith 57, Uthappa 41, Morris 4-26, Chahal 2-34) by seven wickets

Having AB de Villiers in your line-up is like having a cheat code in a videogame. Take him away, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore were very much second best to the Rajasthan Royals on Saturday, with all their other batsmen struggling to find the boundary on a slow pitch, in a chase of 178. Take him away, however, is exactly what the Royals couldn’t do.

De Villiers arrived with the Royal Challengers needing 76 from 42, which became 76 from 41 when Virat Kohli departed. Gurkeerat Singh would be on strike for 17 of those 41 balls, and score just 19 off them.

But even with all these layers of difficulty added to his task, de Villiers pulled it off, and made it look easy, with just a bit of help from the Royals’ tactics. With the equation coming down to 35 off 12, they left their best bowler, Jofra Archer, for the 20th over rather than use him in the 19th as most teams would have.

De Villiers hit Jaydev Unadkat for 6, 6, 6 off the first three balls of that 19th over, and the game was pretty much in the bag. He finished unbeaten on 55 off 22, having hit six sixes – one more than the Royals managed in their entire innings – and the Royal Challengers won with two balls to spare.

Uthappa turns back the clock

Robin Uthappa has always been at his best as a top-order batsman. Before today, he had an average of 29.81 and a strike rate of 133.47 from 121 IPL innings in the top three, as against 24.45 and 119.68 in 55 innings lower down. And yet, he’d batted down the order in all of his matches this season, until today, when the Royals shuffled their line-up once again. Having tried four opening combinations already this season, they now went to Uthappa, in his preferred position, alongside Ben Stokes.

Having struggled for fluency all season, Uthappa found it, making full use of the powerplay field restrictions. He used the crease excellently to pick up four fours in the third over of the match – a drive past mid-off and three sweeps or swipes over backward square leg – when Washington Sundar bowled with long-on and deep midwicket as his two boundary fielders. In the next over, he hit the medium-fast Isuru Udana for a four and a six over mid-on – another favourite zone – and the Royals were up and running.

Chahal intervenes

Stokes wasn’t quite as fluent, and he fell in the last over of the powerplay, off a slower bouncer from Chris Morris. Uthappa was still going strong, though, hitting Navdeep Saini for a pair of fours in the seventh over, and when Sanju Samson greeted Yuzvendra Chahal’s introduction with a massive six over midwicket – which took the score to 68 for 1 in 8.1 overs – the Royal Challengers may have wondered how they were going to stem the scoring rate.

The answer was right in front of them. Since the start of the 2018 season, there had been 12 occasions before today in which Chahal had taken a wicket in an over where he’d also been hit for at least one six. No other spinner had come close – Sunil Narine and Shreyas Gopal were a distant joint second, having done so six times each.

Chahal usually achieves this by continuing to challenge batsmen to hit him for six, and he did so again today, taking out both Uthappa and Samson in that same over, trusting in his flight, a wider line, and the long boundaries in Dubai. Samson’s wicket may have seemed like a poor choice of shot, but there was a bit of deception involved too, with the dip and the slowness of the delivery causing him to drag the ball straighter than intended, and hit the ball to long-off rather than over extra-cover.

Smith, Tewatia help set challenging target

Jos Buttler found the boundary twice in the next three overs, but Chahal, Sundar and Saini combined to give away just 17 runs from overs 12 to 14. The Royals needed someone to restore their ebbing momentum, and Steven Smith provided the boost they needed, using his movement around the crease and the deftest of hands to pick up a pair of fours off Udana and a six and another four – either side of Buttler’s dismissal – off Morris. He picked up three more fours in the 18th over, off Chahal, two via the reverse-sweep.

With Udana bowling an expensive 19th – Rahut Tewatia, who seems to enjoy batting against left-arm seam, got stuck into him – and Morris a tight 20th, the Royals posted 177 for 6.

The boundaries dry up

Through most of their chase, the Royal Challengers simply got stuck. A feature of their innings was an inability to hit fours – they only hit five in all, compared to the Royals’ 17 – and part of the reason for this was the unwillingness or inability of their top order to play the sweep, which is such a key weapon on slow pitches. Where the Royals – for whom Uthappa and Smith played the shot particularly well – picked up 25 runs off 11 balls with conventional, reverse, paddle and slog-sweeps against the spinners, the Royal Challengers only picked up three runs, off two balls.

Devdutt Padikkal struggled to 35 off 37 balls, with only two boundaries, while Kohli struggled for fluency but muscled a pair of sixes in scoring 43 off 32. By the time de Villiers came to the crease, the Royal Challengers’ required rate had climbed from 8.9 at the start of their chase to 10.9 at the 13-over mark.

De Villiers takes over

play

6:39

Tom Moody and Ajit Agarkar look back at Bengaluru’s win over Rajasthan

De Villiers’ arrival didn’t change the game immediately. The Royal Challengers didn’t hit a boundary in his first 15 balls at the crease, partly because Gurkeerat was on strike for six of them, and partly because Kartik Tyagi, Shreyas Gopal – who had dismissed de Villiers four times in five meetings before today – and Archer weren’t that easy to get away.

Then Archer bowled a rare short ball that didn’t get up to an uncomfortable height, and de Villiers was away with a six swatted over the square leg boundary. Even that didn’t fully open the floodgates, with Unadkat and Tyagi managing to keep Gurkeerat on strike for seven balls in the 17th and 18th overs.

This left the Royal Challengers needing 35 off 12. Teams now overwhelmingly use their best death bowler in the 19th over while defending totals, with the idea that they’ll make the equation even harder for the chasing team by the time the final over begins. By that logic, Archer should have bowled, but Smith, the Royals captain, went with Unadkat, reckoning that his slower balls would be harder to muscle over the leg side with the longer boundary in that direction.

It might have worked on another day, and against another batsman, but de Villiers, who sets up better at the crease against the slower ball than anyone else on the planet, went 6, 6, 6 – over the longer boundary each time – off the first three balls of Unadkat’s over. Another six over midwicket, off Archer in the final over, completed the job and moved de Villiers past 50 for the fourth time in the season.



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Max Waller commits to Somerset T20 plans for two more years

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Max Waller has signed a new two-year T20 deal with Somerset that will keep him at Taunton until at least the end of the 2022 season.

Waller, 32, made his debut for Somerset in 2009, having attended Millfield School, and has gone on to become a key cog in the county’s T20 team, with 132 wickets in 133 matches at 23.80, and an economy rate of 7.28.

His haul is the most by any legspinner in the T20 Blast, and he needs just six more wickets to overtake Alfonso Thomas and become Somerset’s leading T20 wicket-taker. In this year’s competition, he took eight wickets at an economy rate of 6.23.

“I’m delighted to have extended my contract at Somerset for another two years,” Waller said. “Having represented the club since I was 10 years old, the County obviously has a very special place in my heart.

“I look forward to helping the team win silverware in T20 cricket over the next few years as we look to keep improving in the shortest format of the game.

“It is always fantastic to play in front of our Members and passionate supporters, so hopefully we will be able to do that again next summer. Thanks as always for all of the support and I can’t wait to get back out there for the 2021 season and beyond.”

Somerset Director of Cricket, Andy Hurry said: “It’s fantastic news that we have extended one of the shortest formats leading domestic players for the next two seasons. This extension creates a great opportunity for us to continue to work with Max and grow his contributions to the T20 side.

“He has been such a valuable member of our Vitality Blast team over the years and we certainly all know what he brings to the team on the field. He is not only capable of squeezing opposition batsman through pressure created with the ball, dynamic fielding and competitive drive, but also his significant contributions off the field reflecting the Club values add so much additional benefit.”



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Luke Wright commits to Sussex white-ball sides until 2023

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Luke Wright has signed a new three-year white-ball contract with Sussex, and will remain with the club until the end of 2023.

Sussex’s white-ball captain has already spent 16 years at Hove, but reconfirmed his value to the club this summer, finishing as their leading run-scorer in the Vitality Blast, and the third-highest scorer in the entire competition, as Sussex reached the quarter-finals for the third time in as many years.

“I’m very happy to have signed an extension to my contract,” Wright said. “I believe I have a very important role at the club both as a player and in helping the next generation of players come through.

“2020 has been a very challenging year for the club, and I sincerely hope to help get Sussex back to competing in all forms. This club is very special to me and my family.”

Wright’s tally of 411 runs during the 2020 Blast was only bettered by Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond and Stevie Eskinazi of Middlesex, and his best performances came home and away against south-coast rivals, Hampshire.

He has scored a total of 7,998 runs in the Blast for Sussex, and a further 5,126 in List A cricket. He also played 101 times for England across ODI and T20 cricket, including a key role in the World T20 triumph in the Caribbean in 2010.

His highest England score was 99 not out against Afghanistan at the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka.

Performance director, Keith Greenfield said: “It’s great that Luke has committed himself long term to Sussex Cricket.

“Luke is an outstanding batsman in one-day cricket and his experience and skill means he continues to go from strength to strength as a player.

“He is a valuable and important person within our club and his leadership to turn us into a winning team will be essential in the coming months and years.”



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Match Preview – Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, Indian Premier League 2020 2020, 52nd Match

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Big picture

Both these teams began their IPL 2020 campaigns against each other, and in some ways how they began is how their tournament has gone. The Royal Challengers Bangalore pulled off a win on the back of their bowling, having first put up a competitive score. The Sunrisers Hyderabad looked like they were making smooth progress in their chase, until a middle-order collapse did them in.

At the other end of the league phase now, both teams find themselves with different equations. The Royal Challengers haven’t yet secured qualification but are still second on the points table. One win will take them through. The Sunrisers, on the other hand, need to win both their remaining games. They’ll be a bit more confident of doing that, because a match earlier, they had needed to win three in three – and against the top-three teams. The Delhi Capitals have been knocked off quite spectacularly, and the Sunrisers have to do the same against the Royal Challengers now.

For the Royal Challengers, there might be a hint of worry given that they have lost two on the bounce, to the Chennai Super Kings and then the Mumbai Indians. Their batting didn’t show up in either game, emphasising the importance of AB de Villiers in the line-up. Whenever he has fired, the Royal Challengers have looked powerful. When he hasn’t, the batting has not been able to break free into impregnable totals territory for the most part.

In the news

  • The Royal Challengers will be waiting on Navdeep Saini’s fitness status. The fast bowler had split the webbing of his right hand in the loss to the Super Kings. Not having Saini available forced quite a few changes for their game against Mumbai. The Royal Challengers had to bring in Dale Steyn to cover for Saini, but that also meant Moeen Ali having to sit out. Shivam Dube was brought back for Ali. Steyn didn’t have a great game against Mumbai, so Isuru Udana might come back instead of Steyn if Saini continues to be unavailable.

  • The Sunrisers’ swap of Jonny Bairstow for Kane Williamson led to Wriddhiman Saha being pushed into the opener’s slot, but a circuitous route yielded a bountiful result, as Saha tore apart the Capitals, who have among the IPL’s best bowling attacks. Historically, Saha’s best position in the IPL has been to bat in the powerplay, and with Baistow not having fired as expected, Saha’s success at the top has lent much greater stability to the Sunrisers middle order with Williamson in there. The New Zealander was sorely missed when the Sunrisers crashed to a 12-run defeat against the Kings XI Punjab chasing only 127 for victory. Incidentally, the Sunrisers had crashed to a similar defeat in their first match against the Royal Challengers in IPL 2020 too, losing by 10 runs. Williamson had been absent from the XI then too, due to injury.

Likely XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Josh Philippe, 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Gurkeerat Singh Mann, 6 Shivam Dube/Moeen Ali, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Isuru Udana/Navdeep Saini, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner (capt), 2. Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Abdul Samad, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 T Natarajan, 11 Sandeep Sharma

Previous meeting

It was both teams’ first match of IPL 2020, and the Sunrisers were 121 for 2, needing 43 runs in 4.5 overs with Bairstow on song, when Yuzvendra Chahal wrecked the middle order. Inexperience played a part in the collapse, as Sunrisers subsided to 153 all out, having lost a chase they looked in control of for large parts.

The Sunrisers had gone with Mitchell Marsh as their fourth overseas player then, and he pulled up short without completing an over and hobbled out to bat at No.10. They’ve covered for Marsh with Jason Holder now, and they’ve got Williamson fit again.

Strategy punt

  • Outside of the IPL, de Villiers has had a lot of success against Rashid Khan. But in the IPL, where Rashid has bowled to de Villiers as part of a generally strong bowling attack, it is the legspinner who has come out on top, with de Villiers taking only 17 runs off 16 balls and dismissed twice. Rashid has also had the better of Virat Kohli, with the Royal Challengers captain having taken 18 runs off 18 balls while being out once. Keeping Rashid for the men who will bat at No.3 and No.4 might be a good move for the Sunrisers.

  • David Warner began IPL 2020 by batting conservatively, looking to play through the innings. While he did get 283 runs in his first eight matches, they came at a strike rate of 121.88, and a Smart Strike Rate of 116.83. In his last four games though, Warner has spoken about going “old school” and reverting to his attacking ways. His strike rate has gone to 167.03 and his Smart Strike Rate has shot up to 203.03, meaning Warner is effectively scoring almost twice as fast as he was. The quick scoring hasn’t come at the expense of runs: Warner has 152 runs in his last four games, and a much higher average (50.67 to 35.50). Continuing to be aggressive at the top seems to be the way to go for Warner.

  • So how do the Royal Challengers counter Warner? Deploy Washington Sundar. He has a couple of factors going for him: he’s going to turn the ball away from Warner, he’s capable of adjusting line and length later than most bowlers, and he’s already bowled extensively in the powerplay this IPL and been among the most economical bowlers in the competition. Warner hasn’t been dismissed by Sundar, but he has taken only 22 runs off him from 22 balls faced – and it’s 20 off 20 in the powerplay. Keeping Warner quiet in the powerplay will be a significant advantage in itself, and could affect how the rest of the Sunrisers batting goes, much as it did before Warner rediscovered his free-stroking avatar.

Stats that matter

  • None of these teams have gone through a season with an all-win record against the other when they’ve played at least two games, splitting wins each time. They played each other thrice in 2016, with Sunrisers beating the Royal Challengers in the IPL final.

  • Of the ten IPL 2020 games played at Sharjah so far, the split between winning batting first and second is five-five. However, the last four matches at Sharjah have been won by the chasing team, with dew playing a more prominent role as the tournament has gone on too.

  • Kohli has played 14 matches against the Sunrisers. He made more than 40 in six of his first seven games against them, but in the latter seven games, he has gone past 40 just once.



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