Getting Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in one innings is no mean feat. However, getting Kohli and de Villiers in the same innings twice could be considered the rarest of rare cases. On Tuesday, Shreyas Gopal achieved this feat and he bowled one of the finest spells of his career by getting rid of Kohli (23), de Villiers (13) and Shimron Hetmyer (1). His spell of 3/12, which included a wicket-maiden restricted Royal Challengers Bangalore to 158/4. Gopal's spell was backed by Jos Buttler's brilliant eighth IPL fifty and a solid partnership between Rahul Tripathi and Steve Smith and Rajasthan Royals finally registered their first win in the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League by securing a seven-wicket win with one ball to spare against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur.
The pitch in Jaipur has traditionally favored pacers rather than spinners. However, the pitch offered in this match saw some dry patches of grass interspread with fresh grass and Rajasthan Royals skipper Ajinkya Rahane played with both Shreyas Gopal and Krishnnapa Gowtham. Rajasthan Royals won the toss and inserted Royal Challengers Bangalore in but Virat Kohli started off confidently, hitting three boundaries up front. In the first two overs of the innings, Kohli dominated the innings while his counterpart Parthiv Patel played the anchor’s role.
Seeing the assistance spinners were getting from the pitch, Rahane introduced Shreyas Gopal in the seventh over of the innings and changed the course of the match in dramatic fashion. On 23, Kohli struggled to read the googly and looked for the cover drive but the sneaked past the gap between bat and pad to crash onto stumps. AB de Villiers got going with a couple of boundaries but Gopal accounted for de Villiers with a googly again. The ball stopped on the pitch and the batsman could only chip it back to the bowler who took a good catch. Hetmyer struggled against Krishnappa Gowtham and he got off the mark after seven balls. The pressure took a toll on Hetmyer, who fell to the wrong-un and edged it to Jos Buttler to depart for 1.
Losing three wickets in space of five overs, it looked that RCB will find it difficult to end the innings on high but Parthiv Patel's 67 and a late flurry from Moeen and Stoinis gave them a decently competitive total of 158 runs.
In response, Rajasthan Royals was off to a blistering start with Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane hammering the opposition bowlers all-around the ground. The duo made good use of powerplay as they were able to score boundaries on every other occasion and finished the first six overs for 55, with the former doing bulk of the scoring.
Kohli introduced Yuzvendra Chahal in the seventh over of the innings and struck straight away. Taking a leaf of Gopal's book, Chahal bowled a googly that spun back in sharply and Rahane was cramped for the cut as he was LBW for 22. Rahane’s departure led Steve Smith to the crease who joined hands with in-form Buttler to get the team close to the winning line. The duo stamped their authority on the opposition bowlers and scored 44 runs in quick time. Chahal, the best bowler in the Royal Challengers Bangalore, kept Kohli's side in the hunt when Buttler mistimed a flighted delivery to be caught at long off for 59.
With 59 runs still needed off 42 deliveries, Rajasthan Royals required another partnership. Smith and Tripathi survived the anxious moments. Chahal should have gotten his third wicket when Smith lofted a tossed up delivery to deep extra cover only for Umesh Yadav to spill the catch near the boundary. The legspinner ended with 2/17 from four overs. From that point onwards, Royal Challengers Bangalore's fielding slumped as they spilled two chances and de Villiers missed a run-out of Smith.
Smith got out on the last ball of the nineteenth over but the damage was done. Tripathi deposited Umesh Yadav to deep square leg for a six and the smiles were back in the Rajasthan Royals camp. Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, slumped to the bottom of the table and are already facing an uphill battle to stay in the race for the play-offs.