Royal Challengers Bangalore suffered a dreadful blow to their morale with a crushing seven-wicket loss to the Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the 2019 IPL.
Harbhajan Singh, the legendary 38-year-old former Indian spin-bowler, proved that he still has what it takes as he ran through the Challengers’ top order, knocking over opener Virat Kohli (6), Moeen Ali (9) and AB de Villiers (9) to leave the visitors reeling on 38-3 off 7.2 overs.
Shimron Hetmyer ran himself out needlessly before he opened his account, and then Imran Tahir spun a web around the Challengers middle order, picking up two wickets.
With their score on 59-7 after 13 overs, the Challengers took a Strategic Timeout, but four balls into the next over Yuzvendra Chahal holed out to Singh off the bowling of Tahir for four runs as the Proteas spin wizard picked up his third wicket of the innings.
The innings ended when opener Parthiv Patel holed out to backward square leg with a lacklustre pull off Dwayne Bravo’s first ball. Patel batted through the innings to score 29 off 35 balls as the Challengers dragged themselves to a meagre score of 70 off 17.1 overs.
Singh returned figures of 3-20 off his four overs (econ 5.00), while Tahir picked up a miserly 3-9 for his allocation at an economy rate of just 2.25! Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was also on song with the ball, picking up two wickets for 15 runs (econ 3.75).
The Challengers hold the record for the lowest IPL score with their score of 49 back in 2017, while they also hold the joint sixth-lowest score of 70 which they also scored in 2014. The previous lowest score defended in the history of the IPL had been 117, which the Chennai Super Kings defended against the Kings XI Punjab in 2009.
The 26-year-old Challengers opening bowler Navdeep Saini had Shane Watson at sixes and sevens in his first over, beating him for pace and rapping him on the helmet as Watson looked eager to get to the other side of the pitch.
No doubt shaken and stirred, Watson swung and missed at a sweep off Yuzvendra Chahal’s seventh ball to leave the Kings on 8-1 in the third over.
Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina added 32 for the second wicket before the halfway mark, when Raina fell for 19 off 21 balls. Rayudu played on to Mohammed Siraj after a well-measured 28 off 42 balls (2×4, 1×6) but Kedar Jadhav (13 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (5 not out) took the Kings through to a seven-wicket win with more than two overs to spare.
Moeen Ali returned the impressive figures of (4-0-19-1, econ 4.75), while Chahal proved nearly unplayable, conceding just six runs off his four overs (econ 1.50), as well as picking up the wicket of Watson.
Photo: Saikat Das/SPORTZPICS for IPL