IPL 2022: Bangalore, Rajasthan go for broke with final berth at stake

Faf du Plessis' men are peaking at the right time and will be more than a handful for Sanju Samson's side



Royal Challengers Bangalore were clinical against the Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator. — BCCI
Royal Challengers Bangalore were clinical against the Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator. — BCCI

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 11:13 PM

Rajat Patidar, whose blazing 112 off just 54 deliveries felled favourites Lucknow Super Giants in Wednesday’s Eliminator, is among the more remarkable stories of this IPL season.

Overlooked in the mega auction which preceded the tournament, the 28-year-old stylish batsman from Madhya Pradesh was brought into the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad only in the first week of April, after Luvnith Sisodia got injured. There were many who scoffed at RCB’s judgement when the choice was made public.

Seven weeks down the road, however, it is Patidar (and RCB) who are having the last laugh.

In seven matches, the tall, handsome strokeplayer, blessed with a divine sense of timing, aggregates 275 runs. This includes a half-century, apart from the stroke-filled century against LSG, which many aficionados rate as not just the best innings played this season, but arguably also among the best seen in the knockout stage in IPL history.

From the time he came into the middle, Patidar exuded supreme confidence and the touch of a man in top form. He had a stroke of luck when Deepak Hooda dropped him in the deep, but beyond that mistake, it was a flawless and exhilarating decimation of LSG’s bowlers, who at one time threatened to quash RCB’s aspirations. The cheap dismissals of Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell had given LSG the upper hand. When Maxwell was dismissed at 86 in the 12th over, RCB were hugely vulnerable.

True, in-form Dinesh Karthik was still in the dug out, but they needed him in the last three-four overs, and someone else to take charge till then.

Patidar did just that in breathtaking fashion, wading into the strong LSG attack with gusto, blasting pacers and spinners alike, to all parts of the ground.

In the last seven overs, with the irrepressible Karthik as partner but this time playing second fiddle, the pair added 92 runs with frenetic hitting that took the score to 207.

LSG’s attempt to chase down the tough target was brave, but futile. Quinton de Kock’s early dismissal was a body blow, and when KL Rahul fell, the fate of the match was sealed.

Going into the qualifier against Rajasthan Royals on Friday night, Patidar’s dazzling century acquires even more importance for RCB. Among frontline batsmen, du Plessis, Kohli, Maxwell, Patidar and Karthik have all come good — to varying degrees of success — in the past few matches. They will seriously challenge RR’s bowling. True, du Plessis, Kohli and Shahbaz Ahmed didn’t score too many runs against LSG. But even if three from these six batsmen click, RR could be chasing a massive score.

Concerned about Jos Buttler’s loss of rhythm, RR will also have to worry about coping with Josh Hazlewood, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga and Shahbaz stymied LSG’s vaunted batting on a placid track.

Before the playoffs, RR looked the much better outfit in all departments. That gap has been breached by RCB with key players peaking at the right time. Add to this, the confidence of having won the Eliminator in style, and Rajasthan have to be at their very best to reach the final.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator


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