Consistent Shubman Gill ends RCB’s IPL campaign

Gujarat Titans (GT) on Sunday delivered the knockout punch to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at a packed M Chinnaswamy Stadium, as the league stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to a close.

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Mumbai Indians (MI) had beaten Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by eight wickets earlier on Sunday, and RCB knew they had to win in order to qualify for the playoffs, but this season, it was just not meant to be. Virat Kohli notched up yet another century as he finished the tournament with 639 runs from 14 matches, six fifties and two centuries. One year is a long time, and around this time last year, all Kohli had were two fifties in IPL 2022. It’s safe to say Kohli has peaked at the right time, but collectively as a unit, RCB have struggled this season, and that lack of ability to fire in unison has cost them the playoffs.

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Drizzle at the Chinnaswamy Stadium delayed the contest by almost 90 minutes, and after MI’s win, only the weather Gods could save RCB.

Where did RCB go wrong on Sunday?

Their middle-order batting. Not for the first time, RCB’s middle-order failed to fire with the big runs. This season, RCB have been almost completely reliant on Kohli, Du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell to deliver the goods, and contribution from the middle-order batting has been below-par this season.

And especially this season, where totals in excess of 200 have been chased, a total of 197/5 by RCB did not just seen safe enough, despite a Kohli century that lit up the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Dinesh Karthik, who was a proven finisher last season, was far from being that this year and only finished with just 140 runs from 13 matches.

Mahipal Lomror, too, has not justified his place in the RCB playing XI this season and had an underwhelming campaign with the bat (135 runs from 12 matches).

And Anuj Rawat failed to strike the ball well on a lot of instances and struggled for runs.

It was clear that RCB missed Rajat Patidar dearly this season. Injury had ruled Patidar out of the entire season and this was a 29-year-old who had scored 333 runs from eight matches. Patidar would have certainly boosted RCB’s batting lineup.

RCB skipper Faf du Plessis was critical of the team’s middle-order.

“We missed a few runs from the middle order consistently throughout the season, especially in the back end of the innings, and also in the middle overs perhaps didn’t get as many wickets as we would have liked,” he said.

Shubman Gill outperforms Virat Kohli

If there has been an award for Mr Consistent in the IPL, that should be Shubman Gill. Youngsters have taken IPL 2023 by storm, and one of them certainly has been Shubman Gill.

Two centuries and four fifties this season, Shubman seems to be going in  Shubman in the right direction.

Both Kohli and Shubman were fluent in their approach, but what made Shubman’s knock even superior was his more aggressive approach. Shubman slammed five fours and eight sixes, with the sixes being seven more than Kohli.

Although not that many boundaries came from Gill inside the powerplay, it was only after that the 23-year-old opted to change gears. In the eighth over, Gill launched over the bowler’s head for a powerful maximum, making Vijaykumar Vyshak pay for the length delivery.

Gill then went full throttle against debutant Himanshu Sharma, hitting him for a four and a six off consecutive deliveries.

One again, Gill hot Michael Bracewell for a couple of sixes in the 13th over, one flying over long leg and the other over deep midwicket. And while the boundaries dried up for Gill for a few overs, he still kept rotating the strike with singles and doubles, and this was a time when GT lost Vijay Shankar and Dasun Shanaka, so Gill had to be cautious.

GT lost David Miller in the 18th over, with their score reading 171/4, but it was around the same time when Gill went all aggressive again. He punished Siraj for two sixes over the deep in the 18th over, before whipping over deep square leg for another maximum, probably the one that decided RCB’s fate.

It was only a matter of time in the end. The RCB bowlers, despite Siraj getting rid of Saha early, were never really in the game, and for GT, Gill remained an unstoppable force to reckon with in IPL 2023.

Wayne Parnell was asked to bowl the final over, with GT needing eight from six balls.

A couple of matches back, Parnell had registered figures of 3/10 against Rajasthan Royals, but this time, he was at the receiving end.

He began with a high full toss, which was given a no-ball for height after Gill reviewed it. That was followed by a wide yorker, which in turn was another extra. Six runs were needed from six balls, and the ever-versatile Gill, sealed the deal for GT (And MI), having down the pitch and beating long-on for a maximum, a maximum that would eventually break millions of RCB’s hearts.

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