Royal Challengers Bangalore 173 for 6 (Shahbaz 45, Karthik 44*, Chahal 2-15) beat Rajasthan Royals 169 for 3 (Buttler 70, Hetmyer 42*) by four wickets
It was the Rutherford wicket that brought Karthik (23-ball 44*) and Shahbaz (26-ball 45) together, and they smacked 67 runs in 5.2 overs. Karthik punished his Tamil Nadu and India teammate R Ashwin as he erred, Shahbaz rose to the occasion by pulling Saini and Trent Boult for sixes at the back end, and RCB completed their fifth-straight win over the Royals in the IPL. It was also their second straight win this season after opening with a loss.
RCB began their chase of 170 courtesy a positive start from Faf du Plessis and Anuj Rawat, but soon after the powerplay Sanju Samson turned to Chahal. He bowled legbreaks landing on middle stump for most of his first over to du Plessis, but then dragged one outside leg to force a mishit down the ground. Saini then used a slower ball to to trap Rawat, who nicked behind to Samson. The two ex-RCB men had struck big blows.
Kohli’s battle against Chahal promised premium entertainment, but it didn’t last long. Kohli, at the non-striker’s, tried to take a single that David Willey was not interested in, and an acrobatic run, grab and throw from Samson to Chahal had Kohli walking back for 5. Next ball, Willey was bamboozled by a Chahal legbreak and was bowled. From 55 for no loss, Royal Challengers were 62 for 4 in the space of 12 balls. Rutherford’s wicket made it 87 for 5.
Karthik hammered Ashwin, who up until his final over had gone for only 18. First he walloped him through backward square, then over long-on, followed by mid-off and finally third man for a 21-run over that reignited RCB’s hopes. He then took a toll on Saini with three boundaries through the leg side, and then let Shahbaz flourish.
Shahbaz had taken the back seat to reach 16 in 14 balls, before he got moving too. He struck a six and four each off Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult, and even though he couldn’t finish the game off, the match was practically over at the time of his dismissal.
For Karthik it was another day for him to show why a few experts believe is the most dangerous finisher of IPL 2022. He has not yet been dismissed in the IPL, making 90 runs in 44 balls so far, and used the crease to put bowlers off their mark, maximising his runs behind square.
The first half
It took a scrappy innings from an otherwise fluent Jos Buttler, some counter-punches from Devdutt Padikkal – also against his former team – and some big hits from Shimron Hetmyer to lift Royals to 170 after they were asked to bat first.
Padikkal hit two fours and two sixes in his 29-ball 37 from No. 3 after Willey had dismissed Yashasvi Jaiswal early. But he was done in by a slower ball from Harshal Patel, who finished with figures of 1 for 18 in four overs.
Wanindu Hasaranga’s four overs were filled with googlies, and Samson was out to one of them cheaply. When Hetmyer walked in at 86 for 3, run scoring was tough with Hasaranga and Harshal squeezing the runs out.
Hetmyer took seven alls to get off the mark, and by the 16th over, Royals had made only 107 with seven wickets in the bank. Interestingly, Buttler – the opener – had faced only only 36 of those deliveries and scoring 39 up until then.
But the slog-overs push did finally come, with Hetmyer punishing Siraj and Harshal in the 17th and 18th overs, and Buttler creaming back-to-back sixes off Siraj’s 19th to reach his fifty in 42 balls.
Right-arm seamer Akash Deep, off whose bowling Buttler was dropped twice in one over in his first spell, then conceded three sixes in the 20th for the current orange cap holder to finish on 70 from 47 and Hetmyer staying unbeaten too on 42 in 31 balls.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx
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