Virat Kohli in the forefront again as RCB qualifies

New Delhi, May 23: At the beginning of this month, Delhi Daredevils was sitting pretty among the top teams and was a shoo-in for the play-offs. Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, was a step away from being relegated despite the imperious form of Virat Kohli.

By the time the league stage of the tournament came to an end here on Sunday night, Kohli had led his team to second spot on the points table. Delhi finished sixth. Defending champion Mumbai Indians, which finished fifth, also failed to make the next stage.

Gujarat Lions as the top team and RCB now go into the first qualifier, while Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders face off in the eliminator.

RCB chased down the below-par 139-run target with ease in the last game of the first phase, with Kohli and K.L. Rahul putting up 66 runs for the third wicket on way to a facile six-wicket win in 18.1 overs.
Shaky start

It looked like game on when Chris Gayle dragged an inside edge onto his stumps off the very first ball from Chris Morris and A.B. de Villiers went soon after leaving the score 17 for two in after 2.4 overs. But Kohli and Rahul wrested any initial momentum Daredevils thought they had.

Even though the scores were close after the PowerPlay, Rahul cut loose immediately and began dealing in fours and sixes even as Kohli took on the anchor’s role and was content with the singles and twos. Rahul inside-edged Carlos Brathwaite’s first ball to be bowled in the 11th over but by then, RCB had taken firm control of the game and Kohli deservedly hit the winning run, a quick single off Brathwaite, to wrap up the innings with 11 balls to spare.

Earlier, RCB had half won the game when Kohli won the toss and put Delhi in, confident of chasing down any target the host might set. Delhi needed a big score to have any hopes of putting pressure on the famed RCB batting. The visitors’ bowling rose to the occasion to restrict Delhi to 138 for the loss of eight wickets.

Quinton de Kock was the lone survivor of the trap built by the RCB spinners and seamers alike as Daredevils suffered an early loss, Rishabh Pant edging behind to Rahul in the second over.

Thereafter, there were bursts of brilliance from Karun Nair and Sanju Samson but neither survived long enough to perform a sustained rescue act. Karun was out to a fine catch by Kohli.

Samson was adjudged caught behind, trying to dab the ball to third man, even though it wasn’t clear if the ball had touched anything.

It was always going to be difficult to get a score big enough for RCB even at this fairly large ground. Gayle’s twin strikes in the 15th over to send back Pawan Negi, promoted ahead of Chris Morris, and Brathwaite reduced Delhi from 93 for four to 99 for six and broke its middle.

However, de Kock kept the scoreboard ticking, though slowly, before being caught by Chris Jordan at long-off even though it looked like Yuzvendra Chahal had overstepped. Only a few quick boundaries towards the end by Morris ensured the half-decent score but in the end, it didn’t matter.

Delhi would be left wondering how things went so wrong after seemingly being so right.