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Match Analysis

Glenn Maxwell's reverse-handed dominance makes the difference

Batter used a short boundary on one side to score half of his runs, with either reverse or switch shots

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
On a night when both innings turned around on spin, it really came down to the efficiency of hitting against spinners. The eight overs faced by Royal Challengers Bangalore went for just 60 runs but with just one wicket. Mumbai lost five wickets for 34 runs to eight overs of spin in response. To the naked eye, and according to the participants, there didn't seem to be much grip in the surface, but the spinners and Harshal Patel, who relies a lot on the slower balls, thrived.
The two teams' approach to playing spin then was interesting, and eventually, decisive. According to ESPNcricinfo's logs, Royal Challengers attacked just seven balls of spin. Virat Kohli, who had got off to a quick start, hitting three sixes inside the first five overs, went at under a run a ball against spin, attacking just one ball from them. At the time, it looked like a spell of ceasefire that handed the advantage back to Mumbai.
In response, Mumbai played the way they do, backing their attacking instincts. They went after 20 out of the 48 balls they faced from the spinners. On most occasions, that is the right approach to batting in T20 cricket because you have 10 wickets in hand over 20 overs. More so in this case as Mumbai had got off to a superb start. It felt like the right approach on the night, irrespective of the result.
However, Royal Challengers might tell you they read the conditions better: not aiming too high and getting a total that kept them in the game before they exploited the pitch with their slower bowlers.
What goes against this line of thinking is that they got to that competitive total through a freak innings. Glenn Maxwell had the best night against spin, scoring at 8.76 an over while playing only three attacking shots in 13 balls. All three were switch hits, two of them hit clean for sixes. Team-mate Harshal Patel, who later took a hat-trick, has seen him a lot in the nets but has never seen Maxwell play any reverse shots.
"I have not seen him play those shots in training," Harshal said in the post-match press conference. "He is one of the most gifted batters I have seen in current cricket. He can do that out of the blue right into the game. Him and AB [de Villiers] are two guys who can bring that sort of skill level into the game without even practising those shots. So no I have not seen him practise those shots, but he does execute them really well under pressure."
Maxwell kept playing the reverse shots against pace too, hitting Adam Milne over short third man for two fours and a six. In all Maxwell scored 28 of his 56 runs with either reverse or switch shots. The reason Maxwell went for so many of those shots was the short boundary on one side, and interestingly, the slowness of the surface, which allowed him time to better line up deliveries.
"Yeah it is something I suppose I have worked on a lot over the years," Maxwell told Star Sports. "And it has become a really good strength for me. I suppose with that short side, I was trying to target that as much as I can. The wicket being a touch on the slower side, I felt I could wait for it, hopefully get under it and cash in with the wind going that way as well."
So Maxwell might not have done it on the team's time, but it takes a lot of practice to find the level of confidence with these shots that you use them in a match. On another night, one of these - still a high-risk attempt - might have resulted in a wicket, and we would be talking of Royal Challengers' go-slow against spin. Not on this night, though, because Maxwell executed these highly difficult shots with precision to get them to a total big enough that their spinners could exert some pressure on Mumbai.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo