RCB hand Moeen Ali an IPL debut and bowl

Royal Challengers Bangalore chose to bowl v Sunrisers Hyderabad. Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli called correctly at the toss and chose to bowl against table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. RCB handed an IPL debut to England allrounder Moeen Ali, who had been bought for INR 170 lakh (USD 265000 approx) at the auction, and recalled batsman Manan Vohra. Brendon McCullum and legspinner M Ashwin were left out. RCB, who are at the bottom half of the table with only three wins in nine matches, could possibly face elimination if they lose tonight. Sunrisers, meanwhile, named an unchanged team. Their captain Kane Williamson reckoned the pitch would remain the same through the course of the match. This is the first time the two teams are meeting this season.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 Siddarth Kaul.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Manan Vohra 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 , 7 Moeen Ali 7 Colin de Grandhomme , 8 Tim Southee, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Mohammed Siraj.

Sunrisers Hyderabad 146 (Williamson 56, Siraj 3-25, Southee 3-30) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 141 for 6 (Kohli 39, De Grandhomme 33*, Shakib 2-36) by five runs. Sunrisers Hyderabad lost their last seven wickets for 34 runs in four overs, but their bowling attack bailed them out again and all but put Royal Challengers Bangalore out of contention for the playoffs. Kane Williamson was front and centre in Sunrisers’ innings, making 56 off 39 balls on a two-paced pitch, where every other batsman struggled. He later dropped Virat Kohli on 33, and fell on his back, but came away smiling in the end. RCB’s chase of 147 fell apart when Kohli and AB De Villiers fell in successive overs for the second game in a row and even though Colin De Grandhomme mounted some late blows, the asking rate and the skill of Sunrisers’ attack was too much to overcome. Bhuvneshwar Kumar defended 11 runs off the last over to help Sunrisers open up a two-point lead at the top of the table.

RCB’s bowlers quickly read the Hyderabad pitch, and ventured cross-seamers and a variety of slower balls. One such cross-seamer from Tim Southee stuck in the pitch and floored Alex Hales’ middle stump in the third over. Moeen Ali, who was making his IPL debut, and the seamers straightjacketed Shikhar Dhawan by offering very little room. Only three out of 19 balls he faced finished wide outside off. He laboured to 13 before splicing a Mohammed Siraj short ball to deep square leg. Kohli made life more difficult for the batsmen with smart field placements. He posted himself at short cover for Manish Pandey, who simply chipped a catch to the RCB captain. It was Yuzvendra Chahal’s first wicket away from home in IPL 2018.

On a similar sluggish pitch in Jaipur last week, Williamson made a masterful 63 off 43 balls and boasted a control % of 100 against every Rajasthan Royals bowler except K Gowtham and Jofra Archer. He may not have the raw power but his ability to manoeuvre the ball into the gaps makes him such a good player even on bad pitches. On Monday night, he got his eye in and then forced the pace. He scored 31 off his first 29 balls before cranking up the tempo and hitting 25 off his next nine balls. Umesh Yadav, ultimately, had him holing out to long leg but not before the Sunrisers captain had brought up his fifth fifty of the season. The shot of the night came fetched a wide legbreak and slog-swept it against the break over the midwicket boundary.

The two seamers did so with contrasting methods. Where Southee took pace off the ball, like he did in the Powerplay, Siraj rushed the batsmen with speeds north of 140kph. Shakib Al Hasan swept a slower ball straight to deep square leg before Siraj bowled both Yusuf Pathan and Wriddhiman Saha in the 19th over. Southee then capped the innings with an excellent last over that brought three runs and three wickets.

After Parthiv Patel was pinned lbw by Shakib, Kohli launched the chase with a flurry of boundaries, including a fierce short-arm jab through midwicket off the left-arm spinner. By the end of the Powerplay, RCB had shaved 55 runs off the target. Enter Rashid Khan. He was bowling to Kohli for the first time in T20 cricket. His sixth ball to Kohli drew an outside edge, but Williamson dropped a simple catch at slip. Kohli was on 33 at that point. He added six runs before Yusuf Pathan pulled off an outstanding one-handed leaping catch at short third man to dismiss Kohli.

Rashid’s first ball to de Villiers drew a review for caught behind from Sunrisers. When the legspinner slid a dart down the leg side, de Villiers missed a pull. Saha rode the bounce behind the stumps and gathered the ball, but Ultra Edge did not detect a spike. Then came a fizzing legbreak, which de Villiers edged past short third man. Then came the wrong’un, which he played on. Siddarth Kaul then had Moeen feathering one behind to leave RCB’s season hanging in the balance.