Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo
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A superlative bowling performance by Royal Challengers Bangalore, including a hat-trick by Praveen Kumar, decimated Rajasthan Royals to a paltry 92 and set up a huge win. The match lasted just 30.3 overs as Bangalore strolled home by 10 wickets to call it an early night, and also seal the second-most comprehensive victory in terms of ball to spare.
The bowlers stuck to a plan of bowling quick, short deliveries, which contributed to an abject batting performance by a weakened Rajasthan. The batsmen struggled to find a weak link to exploit. Although Praveen hogged the limelight with the first hat-trick of IPL 2010, it was the combined bowling performance that set the platform for back-to-back wins at home.
The Bangalore bowlers focused on bowling as straight as possible and tucking the batsmen up. The batsmen looked out of depth from the beginning, playing and missing and failing to find gaps. The first five overs produced only two fours and 27 runs, quite an antithesis to the Twenty20 brand of cricket.
The pressure began to tell on Rajasthan, and the urgency to push on cost them three early wickets. Jacques Kallis struck with his first delivery when he had Naman Ojha splicing to cover-point. Michael Lumb, the Hampshire left-hand batsman, had a testing IPL debut, particularly against Dale Steyn, who got the ball to skid through and fizz past the outside edge on a few occasions. He tried his luck against Anil Kumble by chipping down the track to a slow flighted delivery, but failed the read the googly and was stumped by yards.
Even the experienced Damien Martyn looked out of sorts. The rustiness of not having played too much competitive cricket since retirement began to show against some sharp bouncers from Kallis. The dismissal of Abhishek Jhunjhunwala - chopping Kallis onto the stumps - heralded the arrival of Yusuf Pathan, the best man to get them out of jail.
There wasn't to be an instant manic revival. Yusuf struggled to put bat on ball early on. Realising his weakness against the short ball, Bangalore persisted with back-of-a-length deliveries, and Yusuf kept swishing at thin air. Between the seventh and 11th over, the run-rate did not cross four and even their most attacking batsman was in inertia.
However, the bowlers were made to pay when they bowled fuller, as Yusuf demonstrated with consecutive thumps over deep midwicket off Vinay Kumar. He was dropped twice - on 19 and 24 - off thick top edges, but it didn't cost Bangalore much as he was sent packing with an athletic direct hit by Virat Kohli, diving forward.
Praveen used three different deliveries to get his hat-trick, the seventh in the tournament's history. A sluggish Martyn struggled to break free and lost his middle stump when Praveen returned for a new spell. Praveen followed the yorker with a short delivery to Sumit Narwal, who top-edged it down fine leg's throat. Paras Dogra faced the hat-trick ball, but had his middle stump pegged back to a length delivery, trying to swipe him across the line. The procession of wickets stamped Bangalore's authority on the game, which was all but sealed at that point.
Going by the way Manish Pandey and Kallis closed out the game, only a double hat-trick could have saved Rajasthan. Kallis was at his elegant best, clipping the ball off his pads, tearing into his countryman Morne Morkel for 20 in his first over. Pandey showed scant respect to his countryman, Munaf Patel, muscling the ball down the ground. He also planted one over deep midwicket off Sumit Narwal. The only time Rajasthan looked like taking a wicket was when Pandey sliced the ball to mid-off, and replays couldn't confirm if Morkel took it cleanly.
Rajasthan looked deflated and lost for ideas as Kallis and Pandey threatened to finish the game within 10 overs. Bangalore went to second place in the points table, behind Mumbai Indians.
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