Royal Challengers v NSW, 1st semi-final, CLT20, Bangalore

Bowlers hope for survival in Twenty20 fantasy

The Preview by Sidharth Monga

October 6, 2011

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Match facts

Royal Challengers Bangalore v New South Wales, October 7, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)


Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli celebrate Bangalore's win, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2011, Bangalore, May 22, 2011
Who wants to be a bowler? © Associated Press
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Big Picture

For those who love this format of the game for the big hits, this is pure unadulterated Twenty20 porn. Imagine David Warner, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli and Moises Henriques on this true Bangalore track with good skiddy bounce, with pace that aids stroke-making, with dew affecting the already small outfield. Put together, Warner, Dilshan and Kolhi have scored 279 off 152 balls in their previous innings. It won't be completely inadequate if the team meetings featured only the following words, also in tribute to Graham Dilley: "Let's give it some humpty."

Dilley died hours before the Royal Challengers Bangalore and South Australia gave it some fine humpty in the virtual quarter-final on Wednesday. Two-hundred-and-fourteen was chased successfully with a last-ball six, and yet the striking feature of the whole match was the minimal slogging. Daniel Vettori was left marvelling at some of the cover-driven sixes.

Vettori's four overs for 24 runs also drew mild marvel. He will lead the bowlers' attempts to come out of this without being violated. It didn't happen in the last match, although Shaun Tait took an excellent five-for, but such games are often won by a bowler who does something out of the ordinary. Vettori, whose captaincy, particularly his use - or lack thereof - of part-time bowlers, has come under the scanner, will want to be the one doing that something extraordinary. So will Patrick Cummins, the young fast bowler who has impressed everybody with his raw pace. This pitch will only aid his quickness.

It will take all the canniness that bowlers can muster to keep many records from being broken by the time the night is done. Even some 10 minutes after Arun Karthik hit that last-ball six to take the Royal Challengers through, he couldn't breathe properly. He struggled to speak. He managed a few words before rejoining the celebration. Once the euphoria settled and when the implication of this win dawned, wonder if a bowler sympathiser went up to him, and whispered gently, "What have you just done?"

Watch out for …

Even though Karthik struggled to get words out during that post-match interview, what he said was clear and instructive. He said he knew Daniel Christian would bowl a slower ball, the sixth of the over, and he just waited for it before giving it his all. The slower ball is no longer a surprise delivery in today's limited-overs cricket. In fact it is the new middle overs: the necessary evil. Hopefully there will be some real quick ones from Cummins and Dirk Nannes.

The other ones. Both line-ups have three big batsmen each. NSW's other batsmen aren't ordinary, but they might not find their game suited to a 200-run match. The Royal Challengers' other batsmen haven't often generated a lot of trust, but they somehow managed a six each in the virtual quarter-final just when it looked like their top-heaviness would cost them the match. A mini contribution from these two sets of lesser batsmen could decide the game.

Team news

Both the teams are on winning streaks. Ideally it should mean no changes to the XIs, but both have two places to debate.

Stuart Clark's cutters were always going to be effective on the slow Chennai track, but can NSW risk his medium pace on this quick pitch with short boundaries? Nathan Hauritz, though, could be just as big a risk. Will they punt on the young Josh Hazlewood who has played just three Twenty20s? Another slightly adventurous move could be to bring in Philip Hughes at the expense of Daniel Smith. Hughes was a wicketkeeper-batsman at beginner levels, but this might be too left-field for a big match.

The Royal Challengers have S Aravind to be worried about. On Wednesday he was given shows of trust after shows of trust despite the presence of such part-time bowlers as Gayle and Dilshan. He went for 69 in four overs. Abhimanyu Mithun could be a direct replacement. They also need to get a decent contribution from the middle order. With Saurabh Tiwary struggling, it's almost as if it's the top three, a hole, and then Vettori. They can't really manufacture a valuable batsman at this deep end of the tournament, and might still go for the big, albeit unreliable, hitting of the likes of Tiwary and Mayank Agarwal ahead of Mohammad Kaif's slower reliability and better fielding.

Stats and trivia

  • The Royal Challenger's win over South Australia was the first time an IPL team had beaten an Australian team.

  • Aravind's four overs for 69 smashed the previous record for the worst bowling figures in the Champions League by 10 runs, held by Amit Mishra when bowling against the Royal Challengers at the same venue in 2009. They are also the second-worst figures in all Twenty20 cricket, falling 12 short of Sarmad Anwar's effort for Sialkot Stallions earlier this year.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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