On several days cricket has a way to find some uncanny heroes out of nowhere and it found Rajat Patidar for RCB and probably for Indian Cricket. He showed his class late in the tournament as he got only seven opportunities before this but he used every one of it. Captain Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli, team management showed enormous trust in him in the Playoffs and he just delivered a massive innings, may be an innings of a lifetime for them.
He rode his luck in the second half of his innings with three chances, one potential and two definite chances going begging but they all came in because of the fearless shots he has attempted against classy bowlers like Ravi Bishnoi and Mohsin Khan. Bishnoi might have never dreamt that Rajat Patidar would take him to tethers like he did. He got a chance as Deepak Hooda dropped a straight forward catch in the over but he just made LSG pay for it. Their Trump card bowler Bishnoi went for 27 runs in that over. Earlier, when RCB lost Faf du Plessis for first ball duck in first over to Mohsin Khan’s brilliance, Rajat came out to script history.
He looked calm and composed and mainly did not let RCB powerplay go waste and while Virat Kohli again struggled to time properly and find his flow, it was Rajat who kept the momentum going. He score 50 off just 28 balls. Virat scored 25 off 23 and got out. Maxwell found fielder after a 6 and 9 runs off 11. Still, Patidar kept going with some luck on his side. Mahipal Lamror fell cheaply to a brilliant catch from KL Rahul and same man dropped difficult chance against Dinesh Karthik who struggled initially. After getting a chance, he wrote a script of his own. He went after bowlers and scored 39 off 23 balls to propel RCB score. It was Rajat Patidar who scored 112 out of 54 balls to give RCB 207 score against LSG in Playoff match.
The pressure on captain KL Rahul was invisible from the first ball in LSG chase. He tried to play his usual watchful at start and blasting finish kind off an innings. He did score 79 but took 58 balls. When you opponent team had an innings of 112 in 54 balls and you reciprocate with 79 off 58 and that too wasting Powerplay overs as an opener, just seems unacceptable and inexcusable. It cost LSG the match as the team just fell 14 runs short in the end. Fans of Rahul might argue he took them to that score with Deepak Hooda but had he been fluent or took risks earlier, pressure on Hooda and others around him during his first half of innings might have reduced considerably.
Rahul showed this problem earlier too. While he has been consistent it boils down to him zoning out or fearing too much during crucial matches where he doesn’t go from ball one even when it was what required. He did show in previous seasons when he makes his mind he can hit from first ball and pull it off but when it mattered as a captain, he just found himself fearing too much. On Contrary, fearless Patidar who did not get picked in auction took his team through on his able shoulders.
RCB still would have lost if not for Hazlewood’s penultimate over where he removed KL Rahul and Krunal Pandya in back to back balls. Harshal Patel again rose up to the occasion for RCB by bowling economically and the last over as well. Hasaranga showed that he has got temperament and class to topple good players of spin. For LSG, it all came depended on their captain and Quinton de Cock and both found the wrong time to underwhelm. For a man with Rahul’s calibre, he needs to risk it a bit more earlier as even someone like Rohit Sharma doesn’t start slow in T20’s.
Anyways, RCB is one step further to keep their dream of “Ee Saala Cup Namde” going and Rajasthan Royals will meet them in Ahmedabad on 27th May.