Sharjah in Dubai: Last-ball maximum takes RCB home against Capitals, who are punished for lacklustre fielding

Bharat reminds old-timers of the Miandad six and Maxwell shines yet again as Delhi left to rue dropped catches.

Six runs needed. One ball left. Avesh Khan went for a yorker but sprayed it down the legside for a wide. Next arrived a full toss and Srikar Bharat tonked it into the night sky. For a moment, it wasn’t clear if it had only height and not the distance but it landed well clear of the boundary to trigger celebrations in the Royal Challengers Bangalore dugout.

In fact, the ball before the wide proved to be crucial in its own way. Bharat had squirted a drive towards long-on and had seemingly settled for a single. It was Glenn Maxwell who not only realised that Axar Patel was making a meal of it in the outfield but also understood the importance of that run. That single meant Bangalore would need six off the final ball and had Maxwell retained strike with just a single, they would have needed seven. And who knows without that pressure of preventing a six that could win the game, Khan might not have bowled a wide next ball. So, Maxwell urged Bharat to come back on strike – and boy! did he grab the opportunity in style.

Until that wide and the full toss, Khan had bowled his heart out. Just as Anrich Nortje had done before him. Not only did Nortje take out openers Devdutt Padikkal (caught again at third time to another ill-timed ramp shot off a short ball) and Virat Kohli, he bowled a very tight 19th over in the chase. Bangalore needed 19 runs from two overs, and Nortje gave away just four to keep the game wide open in the final over. Until Bharat decided to seize the moment.

Bharat does a Miandad

Bharat soaked up the pressure of early wickets and allowed Maxwell the freedom to go for it. Whenever Patel came on, Bharat was waiting for him. Or so it seemed. A six and a four in the Powerplay and when the left-arm spinner came on in the middle overs, Bharat repeated the dose again. He charged down the track, swept quick arm-balls, and crashed over covers to keep the pressure on the spinner. And when Maxwell started to visibly tire and perspire in the humidity, Bharat took over the mantle.

The shot that proved he was up for the challenge came in the 17th over. When 39 were needed in 21 balls, he smoked a stunning pull off Kagiso Rabada over midwicket. It not only fetched him six runs but would have indicated to Maxwell that he doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.

Maxwell shines again

Two seasons after he finally admitted to himself and to the world that he was suffering from depression and took medical help, Maxwell 2.0 has been up and running as smoothly as he could have hoped for. Over the past few years, he has copped a bit of criticism for his paycheques not matching his performances in the IPL. But he has repaid the trust shown by RCB this year and has been the main reason for them qualifying for the playoffs.

Greasy-palmed Delhi

If only Delhi had held on to two relatively simple chances that Maxwell gave off Patel in the 14th over, the match might not have even reached the final over with all options open. With 80 needed from seven overs, the Aussie went for it against the left-arm spinner. First, Shreyas Iyer dropped a sitter at deep midwicket off the first ball. Then after Maxwell had unfurled a reverse-sweep and a switch-hit, he top-edged a sweep only for R Ashwin to drop it at short-third man. Maxwell then slugged and swatted his way to bring the required run rate down before Bharat applied the final touches.

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