The Royal Challengers Bangalore came in like lightning and finished it off like thunder. They didn’t give the Rajasthan Royals even a semblance of a chance to put up a fight. A superlative bowling performance which happens rarely in the Bangalore team happened. They crushed injury-hit Rajasthan to 93 as Praveen Kumar got the first hat-trick of this season. It was the skipper Anil Kumble who joined Praveen Kumar with three wickets.
Kallis produced a gem of a cameo and remained unbeaten as in the last two matches. As he had also picked two crucial wickets earlier in the match, he was rightly adjudged the man-of-the-match for his fine overall performance. His opening partner Pandey also batted brilliantly and helped himself to seven boundaries and a solitary six that came against allrounder Sumit Narwal.
The Bangalore bowlers focused on bowling as straight as possible and tucking the batsmen up. The batsmen looked out of depth from the beginning, playing and missing and failing to find gaps. The first five overs produced only two fours and 27 runs, quite an antithesis to the Twenty20 brand of cricket. The slow start never really provided the momentum the innings required and it showed in the disastrous result in the end. The tourists crumbled for 92 — the lowest total of the tournament so far.
The duo of Dale Steyn and Praveen Kumar tormented the two openers, often beating them with either sheer pace or seam movement. Ojha and Lumb had barely crawled to 27 runs when Jacques Kallis drew the first blood. He had keeper-batsman Ojha (16) caught at point by Robin Uthappa. The other opener, Lumb, disappointed during his short stay as he could barely put the bat to ball. His misery was cut short by Kumble who foxed him with a googly and had him stumped.
Even the experienced Damien Martyn looked out of sorts. The rustiness of not having played too much competitive cricket since retirement began to show against some sharp bouncers from Kallis. The dismissal of Abhishek Jhunjhunwala – chopping Kallis onto the stumps – heralded the arrival of Yusuf Pathan, the best man to get them out of jail.
Yusuf Pathan, after struggling for a while, went after medium-pacer Vinay Kumar and hammered him for two massive sixes over long-on. Yusuf Pathan tried hard to break free, and a couple of drops suggested it might just be his day, but things went from bad to worse in the last quarter. Yusuf’s run out put the cat among the pigeons, and Praveen cashed in with a hat-trick.
Praveen Kumar, in his hat-trick, yorked Damien Martyn, bounced out Sumit Narwal, who was brilliantly caught by Manish Pandey at third man; and rattled the stumps of Paras Dogra with a beautiful in-swinger. It left Rajasthan Royals tottering at 85 for 7. The tailenders could only add seven more to the innings before it came to an end in 19.5 over.
That was not the same Rajasthan Royals that won the tournament in 2008. They lacked the spirit of the game along with some key players. Their game lost royality in it as they headed towards their third defeat.