IPL 2021: Rajasthan face must-win match against RCB

Sanju Samson will be under huge pressure. (BCCI)
Sanju Samson will be under huge pressure. (BCCI)

Mumbai - The Royals take on RCB today at 6 pm UAE Time

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Wed 29 Sep 2021, 12:27 AM

After the emphatic victory over Mumbai Indians the other night, Royal Challengers Bangalore should start clear favourites. Rajasthan Royals are exhilarating to watch when in full flow but are also terribly inconsistent and capable of losing for no apparent reason.

For instance, Monday’s defeat to last-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad was a result of a callous batting performance.

On a featherbed pitch where even 175 would have been vulnerable, they mustered only 164 despite a majestic knock by skipper Sanju Samson and SRH fielders spilling three catches.

A sustained aggressive approach is imperative in this format, which entails batsmen chancing their arms. But there is a threshold beyond which calculated risk becomes recklessness. This is what RR’s batsmen have been guilty of throughout this season.

The handicap of not having the services of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer is huge, but this can’t be mitigated by an unplanned approach.

RCB had a stuttering start to the second phase, losing two matches on the trot, but covered major ground by beating defending champions MI by a handsome margin. This will have come as a booster shot to Virat Kohli and his team, also guilty of under-performing in key matches.

Glenn Maxwell, who’s been a hit and miss commodity on the IPL circuit for several seasons, came good when it mattered, and RCB will be hoping that the swashbuckling Aussie has more such knocks in him this crucial week. But despite Maxwell’s pyrotechnics which earned him the man of the match award, Kohli’s form was perhaps more significant going ahead.

Having gone through a prolonged lean trot, he’s been under the scanner of critics, and opponents trying to exploit any weakness. Early success in the second phase augurs well for his team. This was Kohli’s second successive half-century, and better than the first in the quality of strokes and authoritative approach.

Despite Kohli and Maxwell striking superb half-centuries, RCB were still about 15-20 runs short of expectations, largely because AB de Villiers hasn’t hit top form. The law of averages suggests ABD is due for a big one, which is something Sanju Samson will be dreading.

More impressive than the batting was RCB’s bowling in the match against MI.

The seasoned Yuzvendra Chahal doled out a couple of lessons in leg-spin bowling to Rahul Chahar who’s replaced him in the India T20 WC squad, and unsung Harshal Patel revealed a bagful of terrific variations in the death overs, picking up a hat trick against MI.

RR are not out of the running for a place in the playoffs, but this is a must-win match for them. With 12 points, RCB have some buffer, but winning this match would not only make their participation in the playoffs almost certain but create a possibility of finishing in the top two in the points table which every team covets.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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