The Royal Challengers Bangalore must be rubbing their hands in glee. Their inspired purchase of Glenn Maxwell has paid off very early in the Indian Premier League 2021. The Australian allrounder has turned in some stellar batting displays in the first three matches that have pulled Bangalore out of trouble and placed them in positions of strength.
Maxwell could well be the player that could catapult Bangalore to their maiden IPL title. But then these are early days, and it’s premature to entertain such thoughts. What’s undeniable is the difference that Maxwell has made.
Sunday’s encounter with the Kolkata Knight Riders is a good example. Two wickets down in the second over, and that included skipper Virat Kohli. In the past, Bangalore would have huffed and puffed past the hundred mark unless AB de Villiers stages one of his magical feats. But on occasions when De Villiers had failed, Bangalore rolled over.
Enter Maxwell, and he changed the game on its head. Forget the fact that Kolkata captain Eoin Morgan bungled badly by denying Varun Chakravarthy another over soon after his double strike. Maxwell was positive in his approach from the beginning.
When Bangalore opener Devdutt Padikkal struggled to work the ball around, Maxwell found the boundaries with increasing regularity. Their 86-run partnership off 55 balls snuffed out Kolkata’s hopes and set the stage for De Villiers entry. It allowed the South African to play with freedom, and after Maxwell’s departure for 78 (49 balls), De Villiers shifted gears to race to 76 (34 balls) as Bangalore topped 200.
Flattering to deceive
It was a total conjured by the sheer brilliance and aggression of Maxwell. You can’t discount De Villier’s breezy knock, but it was Maxwell who paved the way. After that, Kolkata were never really in the match, although they strove gamely. Such a chase is fraught with risk, and the fall of every wicket makes the task harder. And that’s what happened to Kolkata despite Andre Russell’s late burst.
Where do Bangalore go from here? They have flattered to deceive in the past. Two second-place finishes are the best efforts. Will they go past that? It’s too early to say. They still have issues to sort out. One-drop is a troubling area, although Kohli seems to have faith in Rajat Patidar. Their bowling looks a lot more secure, especially since Yuzvendra Chahal rediscovered his wicket-taking ability and Harshal Patel staunching the run-glut in the slog overs.
What about Kolkata? They have to translate their batting depth into runs. A target of 205 is not beyond them, but they needed partnerships. Like the ones by Maxwell and Padikkal, and Maxwell and De Villiers. Until then, they will continue to struggle. Much like last year.