Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli lauded his bowlers for taking the game into the 18th over, despite only having a total of 70 to defend against Chennai Super Kings, in the opening game of the 2019 Indian Premier League.
On a sharp turner at Chepauk, Bangalore's batsmen couldn't hold their own against the defending champions, and kept losing wickets as spinners Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh cut through their line-up.
Chennai went on to complete a comfortable seven-wicket victory, but Kohli said he'd rather endure such defeats early in the league.
"No team would want to start like this," said Kohli at the post-match presentation. "The good thing is a game like this is out of the way [now] rather than [at] a very important stage of the tournament. We'd rather have this early on and get done with it, that's how we want to look at it."
Kohli defended the batsmen despite their middling performance, saying that their performance was more a case misreading the pitch, which started breaking up very soon.
"No one thought the wicket's going to play the way it did," he said. "Looked much better than it played, we thought somewhere [between] 140-150 would be an ideal score because of the dew factor later on."
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One positive for Bangalore was that their spinners didn't give up despite barely having a total to defend and made Chennai work hard for runs.
Batting second, Chennai had the benefit of not only a target to work with, but also knowledge of how the pitch would play. They adopted a more cautious approach, and were given little leeway from the bowlers to drift away.
Rayudu, the top-scorer, took up 42 balls for his 28 runs. He was assisted by Suresh Raina, who made 19 from 21 balls, and became the first player to go past 5,000 IPL runs. But even during the duo's 32-run second-wicket partnership, Bangalore's bowlers didn't let up.
Yuzvendra Chahal was particularly impressive. After picking up the wicket of Shane Watson for a 10-ball duck, he ended up conceding just six runs from his four overs. Mohammed Siraj and Moeen Ali took a wicket each as well.
"I'm pretty happy with the attitude the guys showed in the field," said Kohli. "Taking it into the 18th over was something that we spoke of, finding ways to be in the game and stretching towards being competitive."
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