The return of Indian Premier League to DY Patil Stadium, which had hosted two of the first three IPL finals, turned out to be a high-scoring affair. But had it not been for two dropped catches, Sunday night’s clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings may not have been as electric as it turned out to be.
Had Shahrukh Khan not made a mess off a regulation catch offered by new RCB captain Faf du Plessis in the fourth over off Odean Smith, the Kings may have been on top. Batting on seven off 15, du Plessis (88, 57b, 3×4, 7×6) pulverised the Kings bowlers as RCB put on a gargantuan 205 for two after being inserted into bat.
Towards the end of the game, it was Smith’s turn to benefit from a dropped catch. Anuj Rawat, the rookie who gave glimpses of his talent as RCB opener and had taken a stunning catch to dismiss Liam Livingstone minutes earlier, saw the wet ball slip out of his hands at wide long-off boundary. Smith had just come in to bat along with Shahrukh and Punjab required 41 off 21 balls then.
Smith (25 n.o., 8b, 1×4, 3×6), the burly Caribbean who was making his IPL debut, made the most of the reprieve by going berserk and ensure the Kings crossed the line with an over to spare.
The dropped catches may have been pivotal in the eventual outcome of the game but for more than 10,000 spectators who thronged the stadium, it was the run-fest that made their evening.
So dominant were batters on Sunday that the match saw 29 sixes – eight more than fours – being hit. Leading from the front was du Plessis, who changed gears in no time to set up RCB’s charge. Batting on 23 off 34 balls at the end of the 11th over, du Plessis went berserk, adding 65 runs off the next 23 balls before being smartly dismissed by Shahrukh running in from long-off.
Virat Kohli dazzled to the delight of the crowd, with his straight six off left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar being one of the shots of the match. Despite Dinesh Karthik’s cameo helping the Challengers to cross the 200-run mark, the Kings timed the chase to perfection.
Captain Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan added 71 in seven overs at the top. Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa then ensured the Kings didn’t lose momentum in the middle before Smith and Rajapaksha provided the finishing touch.