Glenn Maxwell emerged as the unlikely hero as Royal Challengers Bangalore outwitted Chennai Super Kings in the battle of spin and ended its two-week losing streak in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday night.
Maxwell’s two for 22 off his four overs – aided by Josh Hazlewood’s economical spell – meant the Royal Challengers comfortably defended a total of 173 for eight. With no Super King lending support to Devon Conway, the defending champion fell 13 runs short.
While the win resurrected the Royal Challengers’ campaign after a hat-trick of losses, the Super Kings was pushed to the brink of elimination, with just three wins from 10 games.
Soon after Ruturaj Gaikwad top-edged Shahbaz Ahmed to hole out in the deep, Maxwell struck in his first two overs. Robin Uthappa played an uppish cut straight to point while Ambati Rayudu missed a cut to see his middle stump being disturbed with Maxwell bowling around the wicket.
It reduced the Super Kings from 54 for no loss in the seventh to 75 for three in the 10th over. But when Conway played one sweep too many to give Wanindu Hasaranga the final laugh, Super Kings’ task became increasingly difficult.
Hazlewood and Harshal Patel, arguably the most effective death-bowling pace pair, then ensured that they defended 52 off the last four in style, not letting either captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni or allrounder Dwayne Pretorious wage the long handle effectively.
Despite the RCB pacers’ impressive performance, the night belonged to spinners from both sides. The Chennai Super Kings trio – with Moeen Ali joining Maheesh Theekshana and Ravindra Jadeja in place of Mitchell Santner – dominated the proceedings in the first half.
The three conceded just 75 runs and picked five key wickets in their 12 overs to get Super Kings back into the game after Faf du Plessis’ flurry in the PowerPlay.
While Kohli continued to struggle, playing 16 dot balls before being cleaned up by Moeen with one that turned just enough to crash into the stumps, du Plessis went after the inexperienced pacers. His lofted drive off Mukesh Choudhary over long-on and Kohli’s slap off the backfoot over covers off Simarjeet were exquisite.
But in Moeen’s first over, du Plessis gifted his wicket away, mistiming a heave off one that should have been sent sailing over midwicket. The mishit was accepted by Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket. Even before Moeen saw Kohli’s back in his next over, CSK was in control with Maxwell being run out.
Mahipal Lomror then justified his promotion ahead of Rajat Patidar in the batting order with a knock that proved to be decisive along with Dinesh Karthik’s cameo at the death.