Manan Vohra and Hashim Amla consign Bangalore to second defeat

Manan Vohra and Hashim Amla guide Punjab to their second-straight win in the new season of Indian T20 competition


Manan Vohra and Hashim Amla thwarted all efforts from Bangalore’s bowlers to seize the early initiative – after Bangalore had scored just 148 in their innings – by playing an aggressive brand of cricket that saw Punjab shave 50 runs of the target in the first five overs in the Indian Twenty20 competition at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore on Monday.

Punjab, already having won their first match of the tournament against Pune, needed to score at 7.40 an over and Amla ensured they did just that by hitting a boundary in each of the first two overs and regularly rotating the strike. Vohra, who was circumspect till then, had a stroke of luck in the third over when he top-edged Billy Stanlake for a six. He then tore into Shane Watson in the next over and clobbered him for 17, with three boundaries. Before this match, Vohra had scored at 8.39 an over against pace in the tournament, and 6.78 against spin and he continued targeting the seamers.

Amla and Vohra scored at 10.33 runs per over during their 62-run opening stand. Tymal Mills finally broke the partnership by trapping Vohra lbw for a 21-ball 34. The early damage had already been done and Captain Glenn Maxwell produced some unorthodox shots to complete a comprehensive win eight-wicket win with 33 balls to spare.

Why did Royal Challengers drop Gayle?

The moment AB de Villiers was fit and available, it was always going to be tough for Royal Challengers Bangalore to decide which overseas to leave out. There must be a temptation to drop one of the overseas bowlers to play both Chris Gayle and de Villiers. While Gayle is a match-winner on his day and hasn’t looked out of sorts in this IPL, it was important for RCB to avoid compromising on their bowling resources. Billy Stanlake and Tymal Mills along with Yuzvendra Chahal and Shane Watson gave the requisite teeth to their bowling department.

On most days a T20 innings can be looked after by three-four batsmen – you might not even need that many on certain days – but it’s impossible to go through 20 overs with four bowlers, for at times even five bowlers aren’t enough.

What was Royal Challengers’ reasoning behind batting first?

The pitch in Indore is flat and the ground is small. The chasing team had won all three IPL games at this venue. So what could the rationale have been behind Royal Challengers choosing to bat first? Since Royal Challengers strengthened their bowling and won their last game with the same tactic, they continued in the same vein. In my opinion, the tactic to bat first in the last game had something to do with Delhi Daredevils’ weak batting and it worked too. Against Kings XI Punjab, though, it was always a risky decision to try and defend a total. It was also an admission of Royal Challengers’ lack of depth and prowess in the batting department.

Why did Kings XI open the bowling with Axar?

KXIP might have dropped Swapnil Singh, a left-arm spinner, and brought in Varun Aaron keeping Gayle in mind. Gayle didn’t play, eventually, and that allowed Kings XI to open the bowling with Axar Patel, which wouldn’t have happened if the big West Indian left-hander was playing. The move to start with a spinner has mostly worked with regards to bowling a tight first over but this time it produced a wicket too. Once again the data crunchers may have dictated the strategy–including this innings, Axar has dismissed Watson four times in just 24 balls.

Why did Kings XI not use Axar in the third over?

Before being appointed Kings XI captain, Glenn Maxwell had never led any side in his career. It will be interesting, therefore, to see him go about his business through the season. Even though Axar took a wicket in the first over, Maxwell resisted the temptation to continue with him. In the the Sunrisers Hyderabad-Gujarat Lions game, we saw spinners from both sides bowl an economical first over and go for plenty in the third over. David Warner and Suresh Raina are seasoned captains but it was Maxwell who got the tactic right.

Nadeem in Bengaluru, Axar in Indore

Two left-arm spinners have bowled economical spells against Royal Challengers in successive matches. Nadeem’s figures were 1 for 13 in four overs, and Axar only conceded 12 runs for a wicket in his four overs here. Both bowled in the Powerplay and still weren’t taken for runs. Left-arm spin against Royal Challengers is a story worth following, for a few more such spells might dictate teams to play left-arm spinners against them. This narrative might play out again.

How did Royal Challengers approach defending 148?

Once you have managed a below-par score, the only way to win the game is to take early wickets. While Royal Challengers did the right thing by starting with Stanlake from one end, it made little sense to have Iqbal Abdulla bowling the second over. It took until the sixth over for Tymal Mills to come into the attack, and he was taken out after one over, despite ending it with a wicket. When he was brought back to try and dismiss Maxwell, he didn’t bowl a single bouncer in that over.

Royal Challengers’ main wicket-taking bowler is Yuzvendra Chahal, and it was surprising to see him come on in the seventh over and not bowl in the Powerplay.

Why did Kings XI use Axar at No. 3?

While Kings XI got most things right, the tactic to promote Axar to No. 3 challenged common wisdom. It has been difficult to understand his role so far, since he has batted in radically different fashions in his two games. Against Rising Pune Supergiant, he started slowly before perishing trying to play the big shot. Against Royal Challengers, he looked to hit from the first ball when his team needed only a run a ball. It will be interesting to see if he becomes a permanent fixture at No. 3 for Kings XI.

Credit:@Espn Sports media


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