Royal Challengers Bangalore raised some eyebrows with their batting order in the IPL 2020 game against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah on Thursday. AB de Villiers, who had blasted 73 off 33 balls in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders at the same venue, did not come out to bat after the fall of Aaron Finch’s wicket. Instead, Washington Sundar was given a promotion and he managed just 13. Even when he fell, Shivam Dube came out and hit 23 off 19 balls. AB de Villiers came out only in the 16th over but he fell for 2 to Mohammed Shami as Royal Challengers Bangalore were restricted to 171/6.
In the post-match presentation, Virat Kohli said the move was done to ensure that a left hand-right hand combination would be present at the wicket. “We had a chat, it (AB batting at no. 6) was a message about the left-hand, right-hand combination. Sometimes these decisions you take, don’t come off. But I think 170 was a decent score. That’s the idea, get your eye in and start hitting. But we were not able to put them under pressure,” Kohli said.
However, Harsha Bhogle, the cricket commentator has analysed a very important aspect of de Villiers’ demotion to the batting. It had to do with the legspin. It is a well-known fact that AB de Villiers struggles against legspin and left-arm spin. The presence of Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi might have forced Royal Challengers Bangalore to make him bat lower down the order after they have bowled out.
Harsha Bhogle believes that this played right into the hands of Kings XI Punjab and said the two youngsters can be proud of how they psychologically got the better of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. “If it was the match-up of AB vs leg spin that caused him to come down at no 6, then Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi must strut around for the rest of their cricket career, tell their relatives we were the reason the great AB didn’t come out to bat!”, Bhogle tweeted on his official handle.
If it was the match-up of AB vs leg spin that caused him to come down at no 6, then Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi must strut around for the rest of their cricket career, tell their relatives we were the reason the great AB didn’t come out to bat!
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 15, 2020
Kings XI Punjab threatened to botch the chase up yet again after they won off the last ball of the match. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle had smashed fifties and shared a partnership of 93. However, with two runs needed off the last over, Kings XI Punjab took it to the last ball and it took a six from Nicholas Pooran to help them get over the line by eight wickets.
After the match, Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul remarked that he had no idea as to how the match became so close.
“I have no idea, it’s (heart beat) the highest it can be. I don’t even have words. We knew we had to scrape and get over the line. We are a far better side than where we are in the points table. It just got too close for comfort, happy that we crossed the line. As a group, we have been disappointing. It can get frustrating. Our skills were good, but we didn’t capitalize on the big moments. It becomes a habit – winning and not winning. There are ups and downs and this has been the roller-coaster. We wanted this win to get some confidence in the group. It’s my first time as captain, for me it’s always about winning,” Rahul said.