Shreyas Gopal, the Rajasthan Royals legspinner, used his knowledge of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium surface to great effect to bowl a crucial spell mid-innings and remove Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Shreyas’s strikes in consecutive overs broke the momentum and put paid to Royal Challengers Bangalore’s plans of chasing 218, as they went down by 19 runs on Sunday (April 15) on a pitch that had slowed down considerably.
“Honestly, this wicket was a little slower than the normal Bangalore wicket,” conceded Shreyas. “But with the grass off, I expected it to be on the little slower side after watching the previous game. When it comes to getting the two biggest players in the world, it doesn’t happen every day. I just need to soak it in. I am privileged and honoured to have got their wickets. It’s a moment that I will always cherish.”
Shreyas was brought on to bowl in the seventh over, when Kohli (57 off 30 balls) was in full flow and Quinton de Kock looked solid in the middle. Kohli was caught in the deep while pulling a short delivery, and de Villiers (20 off 18 balls) too fell in similar fashion two overs later. Shreyas, who ended with 2 for 22, admitted that those were not his best deliveries to get wickets.
“I was just looking to bowl into the wicket a little bit. When I saw first, every time they bowled back of length, it was gripping a little bit and coming slow off the wicket. That was the plan.
“We needed a wicket at that time, and so I was just trying to bowl some good balls and make them make a bad decision or play a bad shot and if I get a wicket that will probably stem the run rate a little bit. They were not the best balls that I got ABD and Kohli, I think the plan was to just bowl those hard lengths and make it as difficult as possible for them.”
Sanju Samson’s brilliant 92 not out off 45 balls formed the cornerstone of Rajasthan’s 217 for 4 after they were asked to bat. Supported by Ajinkya Rahane’s 20-ball 36, Samson obliterated the Bengaluru bowlers, bringing up his half-century off 34 balls before breaking the shackles in the last three overs.
“I think he has batted really well, we played a couple of practice games in Jaipur and he was hitting the ball really, really well,” Shreyas said of Samson. “Our batsmen have put in really hard work in practice games and are continuing the same in the matches as well. It’s very important that it’s just the beginning and we need to put better performances in the coming games and get some more wins under our belt.”