It seemed both sides had woken up on the wrong side of the bed but the Royal Challengers Bangalore ended the night well with a brilliant fightback with the ball to get the better of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the sixth match of the IPL in Chennai on Wednesday night.
After spluttering to 149 for eight on the back of Glenn Maxwell’s seventh IPL fifty, RCB defended that total following left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed’s three-wicket burst in an over, to win by six runs at the Chepauk.
Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner had worked his way to a half-century (54), his 49th IPL fifty and was involved in an 83-run alliance from 69 balls for the second wicket with Manish Pandey.
But Shahbaz Ahmed pulled a rabbit out of the bag, quite literally snapping up three wickets in an over, those of Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey and Abdul Samad, to leave them floundering. And although Rashid Khan came up with a cameo at the end, RCB managed to close it out.
It was the fourth time that RCB had defended a low total in IPL history, after 126-8 against the Chennai Super Kings in Chennai (2008), 133-8 against the Rajasthan Royals in Cape Town (2009) and 145-9 against Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in Durban (2009).
The victory saw RCB go top of the table with four points.
Maxwell, who scored 59 from 41 deliveries with five boundaries and three sixes, was delighted with the start to his new journey at a new franchise.
“It’s a nice start at RCB,” Maxwell told the host broadcaster.
“They gave me a specific role. To have batters around me gives me time to settle in and play with freedom – similar to the role I play at the Australian team. It’s just sharing our experiences and giving myself time to assess my conditions.
“Kohli’s good at keeping me on task. Having those guys behind me is a nice little luxury. It’s my fourth IPL team and there’s pressure on me to turn up and make my impact. I’m planning to get my chance at bowling, but Washington Sundar is a superstar,” added the 32-year-old, who had made 39 against defending champions Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener.
Captain Virat Kohli, who scored 33, revealed that he had told his side during the innings break that since they struggled with the bat, it would be the same case with the opposition.
“Not as exhausted as I’m proud. It was a top game for us and probably it will get more and more tougher here,” said Kohli.
“You saw it in the game between KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) vs Mumbai Indians — you are never really out of the game. Those extra options made the impact performances in the middle overs. I told them if we’ve struggled to 149, it will be tougher for the opposition. I truly believed we could win with 150,” he added.
Kohli also said that Maxwell’s knock gave them a bit of impetus at the back end.
“The wicket was never a belter and tonight our execution under pressure was spot-on. The wicket kept getting tougher and tougher with the old ball. It’s about getting momentum in the first six overs, but for us Maxi (Maxwell) gave us that momentum and got us closer to 150,” Kohli said.
It is a great start with two wins from two, but Kohli isn’t getting carried away.
“To be very honest, we are not over-excited with victories. We have a clear plan and are backing our players. We traded Harshal (Patel) from Delhi and gave him a specific role and he has done well. It’s a long tournament and you have to be professional with your job,” the 32-year-old added.
Warner, his opposite number, was dejected after coming so close to a first victory.
“A very big bitter pill to swallow,” said Warner.
“Obviously Maxi (Maxwell) batted well, but our bowlers did well to restrict them. Look, it was just about building a partnership and I was quite disappointed with how we went – cross-batted shots against left-arm orthodox. It just hurts,” he added.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore are up against the Kolkata Knight Riders on April 18, the first of the double-headers in Chennai, while Sunrisers Hyderabad meet the Mumbai Indians on April 17.