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RCB end disappointing season with consolation win

Royal Challengers Bangalore 161 for 6 (Kohli 58, Gayle 48, Cummins 2-21) beat Delhi Daredevils 151 (Pant 45, Harshal 3-43, Avesh 1-23) by 10 runs

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They might have had heady highs and lowly lows in between but Delhi Daredevils ended their season as they began it: let down by their mercurial batsmen after the bowlers kept Royal Challengers Bangalore down to a middling total. In their first fixture, Daredevils failed to chase down 158; here they came short going after 162. On both occasions, Rishabh Pant was left without any support from the other end, out for 45 off 34 in the 17th over. Like in Bangalore, Pawan Negi bowled the last over to take out Daredevil’s last hope, Mohammed Shami, who had scored 21 off nine balls.

Winning their first match in their last eight attempts, Royal Challengers managed to get off just three wins, which would the joint second-worst return for any team in any IPL. They did have their usual failings, though. On a pitch that Virat Kohli expected to offer a lot of turn, he and Chris Gayle laid a platform, but both fell for middling strike rates of 128.88 and 126.31. The rest didn’t contribute much as Pat Cummins, Zaheer Khan and Shahbaz Nadeem pulled things back.

In response, though, Daredevils’ batsmen made more mistakes. Karun Nair and Shreyas Iyer got themselves in on a pitch that lived up partially to Kohli’s expectations but got themselves out before they could pay the team back for the 22 and 30 balls they faced for a strike rate of 118.18 and 106.67. The soft dismissals left Pant with all to do, which once again proved too much.

The Gayle and Kohli encore, sort of

Given one final chance to entertain, Gayle put on 66 with Kohli for the second wicket. The pitch was not as alarming as Kohli expected it to be, but there were signs of its slowing down. Gayle hit just one boundary in the last 17 balls he faced, and Kohli scored just 17 off the last 15 balls that came his way. Take out the 19 runs he scored off nine balls from his favourite bowler, Amit Mishra, and Kohli scored 39 off 36 balls.

It will also leave Daredevils’ tactics to question. Kohli v Mishra has been the second-most one-sided contest in the ten years of IPL, but they still went with Mishra before Shahbaz Nadeem, presumably because of the presence of Gayle. Kohli just loved it, extending his dominance over the veteran legspinner, who has got into the bad habit of firing balls in whenever a batsman starts to attack him.

Nadeem starts the turnaround

Daredevils might have looked to shield Nadeem from Gayle, but the bowler unleashed his legbreaks to keep the left-hand batsman quiet. With the first ball of the 14th over, another legbreak, he got rid of Gayle. This began a slide. Travis Head was run out responding to an optimistic call for a second from Kohli. Kohli himself holed out to Zaheer’s bowling. Kedar Jadhav was dopey with his running. Cummins then ended superbly with yorkers as the ball reversed, which points to a dry square as Kohli mentioned earlier.

Negi, the 20th-over fox

Before he got his chance to end with the ball, though, Negi found himself batting in the 20th over. Daredevils gambled, looking for wickets in the earlier overs, and were now left to choose between Corey Anderson and one of the spinners for the last over. They went with Anderson, who bowled a fourth over for the first time this season, and 16 came off it, thanks to three fours hit by Negi.

Daredevils’ three amigos

Sanju Samson, Karun Nair and Shreyas Iyer, Daredevils’ three main batsmen before Pant’s power kicks in, have shown flashes of brilliance, but their final match this season was a reminder that disappointment has been the more dominant feeling with them. Avesh Khan, former Under-19 star and making his T20 debut, surprised Samson with bounce first ball of the chase, but Samson responded with a limp front-foot pull to get out second ball. Nair and Iyer played longer innings, but they hit innocuous-looking deliveries straight to fielders to make it 87 for 3 in the 12th over.

Harshal’s highs

Harshal Patel is not a regular for Royal Challengers, but he struck regularly on the night to keep dragging Daredevils back. He had sussed the pitch, and kept banging the ball into the surface with fingers rolled on it. Iyer fell to that followed by a big offbreak to Marlon Samuels first up. Corey Anderson survived the hat-trick ball, but his innings of three off nine made it really difficult for Pant.

Pant didn’t give up, though, swatting Harshal for a six first up when he came back for the 17th over, with 49 required off the last four. Harshal, though corrected, himself immediately and bowled three straight slower ones to get rid of Pant.

Shami then swung hard and benefited on a small ground, but Negi gave him no pace to work with and secured the win at his first-class home ground.

Credit:@ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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