Mumbai’s KKR player Thakur gets deserving kudos after smashing 68 off 29 balls against Kohli-armed RCB
KKR’s Rinku Singh (right) and Shardul Thakur during their match against RCB at the Eden Gardens on Thursday. Pic/PTI
If Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s stepping out to demolish the dangerous Sunil Narine at Mohali evoked a sense of disbelief last Saturday, so was Shardul Thakur’s breath-taking counterattack that set up Kolkata Knight Riders’ 81-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens on Thursday. Blame it on the nature of the beast, where bold is often beautiful.
No repeat show
As if to drive home the point, Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis, so authoritative in the 148-run partnership that shut out Mumbai Indians last Sunday, were denied a significant role this day as ‘mystery’ spinners Narine and Varun Chakravarthy polished off the top order to peg back RCB’s chase of 205. Chakravarthy ended up with 4 for 15 and Narine had 2 for 16 in his four overs.
Leg-spinner Suyash Sharma, coming in as the ‘Impact Player’ to make his IPL debut, snared three while Shardul, who couldn’t put a foot wrong on Thursday, had one. ‘Big Three’ Kohli, du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell were the first ones back in the pavilion and RCB were soon reduced to 61 for 5 in the ninth over. They never quite recovered from there.
Skipper Rana thrilled
“I’ve always admired Shardul as an impact batter but today he exceeded expectations,” gushed Nitish Rana at the post-match media interaction. “What else can a captain want if an all-rounder bats in such fashion and turns around a game single-handedly?” RCB head coach Sanjay Bangar had no doubts where the match was lost.
“The way Shardul and Rinku [Singh] batted, I felt that they took the game away from us,” rued Bangar even as he admitted that “we were outplayed in all departments of the game”.
Rana didn’t forget to mention southpaw Rinku’s crucial contribution. “His innings was as important as that of Shardul in the partnership. At the strategic timeout, I told him to be keep batting till the 19-20th over, which he did. We know he too can hit sixes,” the skipper said, adding: “He’s has a ‘bindaas’ attitude and keeps things simple.”
Rana made no bones about his own dismissal while attempting a reverse-sweep. “I’ve always backed my shot-making; that’s the way I play,” he shot back when the subject was brought up.
He refuses to see Thursday’s big win as a “comeback” after the loss to the Punjab Kings. “We were confident that if we had played our full quota of overs we would’ve won that too,” he said of the seven-run defeat via the DL method. After Thursday’s show, many would want to believe that.