Moeen Ali decision gives RCB fresh batting avenues
IPL 2018Moeen Ali decision gives RCB fresh batting avenuesPrakash Govindasreenivasan in Bengaluru â¢ "One of life's great pleasures is to bat with AB, and it was amazing to share a partnership with him" - Moeen Â© Getty
The early thrum at the Chinnaswamy stadium lived a short life on Thursday. A back-of-the-hand wrong 'un from Rashid Khan escaped Virat Kohli's bat, lit up the stumps and silenced the stadium in just the fifth over. The next time there were cries of 'AB.. AB', it carried more than just longing for him to mesmerise thousands with his outrageous skill with the bat. This time perhaps, they were SOS calls, desperate for him to sort out the mess that RCB had found themselves in so early in yet another season-defining game.
It had been a while since Moeen Ali had faced Rashid, and it showed. Sent in at No.4, Moeen found it hard to align his vision with the zippy action of the leggie, and appeared to be trying to read the ball off the pitch, and struggling in the process. He just about survived three deliveries, one of which was a wicket-taking opportunity that stumper Shreevats Goswami didn't latch onto.
And then came Basil Thampi, like a cheat day after weeks of punishing workout.
The first two balls of his freakish evening were deposited over extra cover and deep square leg fence respectively, giving RCB's new No.4 a chance to swiftly turn an unconvincing start into a fascinating cameo. And more.
When Shikhar Dhawan caught Moeen's flat hit towards the long on fence but stepped over the boundary line, the Englishman had raced to 29 off 18 balls, taking som e weight of recovery off AB de Villiers's shoulders. SRH's failure to tap into Moeen's early struggle against Rashid allowed the former to be at ease when the latter returned for his third over. Moeen, in fact, welcomed Rashid with a charge down the track to yet another googly, and sent it soaring over long off.
By the 12th over, de Villiers had his fifth fifty of the season, and his second slowest [32 balls], but Moeen was on compensation mode from the other end. After Thampi received a pounding for bowling short and on the body against the left-handed Moeen, Siddarth Kaul too got a live demonstration. RCB smashed 68 without losing a wicket in the six overs since powerplay - making massive amends since their last game against the table-toppers in Hyderabad where they managed 30 for 3 in that phase.
From there on, Kane Williamson entered a fairly unfamiliar territory. He had the task of working his bowling options around while trying to minimise the da mage that Moeen and de Villiers were set on causing. The continued deterioration of SRH's position in the game was further helped by Thampi's failure to learn, adapt and roll his fingers over the ball and unfurl a few cutters with better frequency. He largely stuck to pace, instead, and paid a very hefty price - 4-0-70-0, the most-expensive spell in the history of IPL.
By the time de Villiers hit his first six of his innings - an audacious, jaw-dropping shuffle-across-and-sweep that flew over the roof - Moeen had five of them in his tally. There'd be one more - a mishit off a slower ball that he didn't quite grasp - before falling in the space of two balls from de Villiers's dismissal in the 15th over.
On most occasions, a double strike that knocks out both participants of an essay-building partnership proves to be a gate pass for the bowling side to make a re-entry into the game. But the 57-ball alliance worth 107 had already put RCB in a po sition of strength, from where Colin de Grandhomme didn't have to nurdle around. The result was a whirlwind 17-ball 40 from him and an eight-ball 22 from Sarfaraz Khan that gave RCB the extra cushion beyond the possible par score of around 190-200.
"One of life's great pleasures is to bat with AB, and it was amazing to share a partnership with him," Moeen said in the innings break, after having successfully outscored the South Africa during the stand.
The Englisman may have clocked hours batting in the nets and playing some neat football leading up to several home games, but a show of batting acumen at No.4 in his first appearance at the Chinnaswamy has offered fresh avenues for a team that still has a faint heartbeat going amidst a feisty jostle for the two remaining playoffs spots.
"I felt I have been playing football quite well, but I guess it's great to be in the team," he said. "I feel like I have been playing well in the nets and practice. It is just nice to go out and express myself in the last game here and for the fans and the team as well. And for my own confidence and the team's confidence in me. Hopefully we can keep going and I can keep this form going as well," Moeen said.
"We are going to have to contribute for us to go further and potentially get through and in the future as well. You can't always rely on two amazing players [Kohli and de Villiers]. They will do their bit but we will also have to chip in," he added.
As RCB faithful slowly found their voice again after the lull that came with Kohli's exit, Moeen did a lot more than just 'chipping in'.Â© Cricbuzz TAGS