X-Factor. That’s the term Royal Challengers Bangalore head coach Simon Katich and cricket director Mike Hesson used to describe their Rs 14.5-crore auction acquisition of the season, Glenn Maxwell. Like in the first two games, the all-rounder lived up to their expectations. Maxwell (78; 49b, 9×4, 3×6) and the dependable AB de Villiers (76 n.o, 34b, 9×4, 3×6) were the game changers as Virat Kohli & Co registered a comprehensive 38-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders, thus kicking off their campaign with a rare hat-trick of wins.
Opting to bat at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Sunday afternoon, RCB rallied from early hiccups to amass a massive 204/4. In reply, KKR mustered only 168/8, most of their batsmen failing to build on starts.
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When Maxwell made his way into the RCB fold, there were doubters aplenty, and with good reason. The previous season, turning out for what then was Kings XI Punjab, he had made a frugal 108 runs in 13 matches. But this season, the turnaround has been phenomenal, the Australian having raced to 176 runs in just three innings.
Maxwell came into bat with RCB precariously placed at 9/2 after two overs. Skipper Kohli (5) was the first to go, miscuing a Varun Chakravarthy (2/39) delivery that was brilliantly grabbed by Rahul Tripathi, sprinting back a fair distance from cover. Four balls later, rookie Rajat Patidar (1) lost his off stump to the same bowler. Strangely, KKR skipper Eoin Morgan took Chakravarthy off after that double-wicket over.
01:42De Villiers, Maxwell fire RCB to 38-run win against KKR
For Maxwell, the start wasn’t easy, with spinners Harbhajan Singh and Shakib Al Hasan keeping it tight. After rotating the strike and a couple of boundaries later, Maxwell launched his attack with a massive maximum off Shakib in the sixth over. His well-crafted half-century came in 28 balls.
At the other end, Devdutt Padikkal (25) pulled a short ball from Prasidh Krishna, which landed in the safe hands of Tripathi at deep mid-wicket.
IPL 2021, Match 10: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Glenn Maxwell was good but AB de Villiers was better as Royal Challengers Bangalore bested Kolkata Knight Riders by 38 runs in their IPL match in Chennai on Sunday. (BCCI/IPL Photo)
Padikkal’s exit brought De Villiers to the crease, and thus started a blockbuster show starring two big hitters. Their quick-fire 53-run fourth-wicket stand accelerated the scoring rate. Maxwell’s innings came to an end when he miscued a Pat Cummins delivery to Harbhajan at short fine leg.
But De Villiers continued the assault in the company of Kyle Jamieson, RCB smashing 56 runs off the last three overs. Jamieson had the best seat in the house as the South African unleashed an array of strokes. While he launched a Russell yorker high over mid-wicket for a six, Harbhajan’s slower one was sent into the sky over extra cover.
Chasing 205 was always going to be tough, and KKR did themselves no favours, losing wickets at regular intervals. Opener Shubman Gill, after striking two consecutive sixes off Jamieson, was third time unlucky and headed back to the dugout. Tripathi (25) and Morgan (29) flattered to deceive, as did Shakib. Russell did try to make a match of it with a 20-ball 31, but it was too little, too late. An expensive Jamieson finished with three for 41, while Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel claimed two wickets apiece to muscle RCB back on the top of the table.