Sharjah in Dubai: last ball maximum brings RCB home against Capitals, who are punished for poor face-off

Six races required. A bullet to the left. Avesh Khan went for a yorker but sprayed it on the side of the legs for a wide. Then came a full throw and Srikar Bharat launched it into the night sky. For a while, it wasn’t clear if he only had height and not distance, but he landed way over the limit to spark celebrations in the Royal Challengers Bangalore dugout canoe.

In fact, the ball before the wide proved to be crucial in its own way. Bharat had squirted a drive towards long and had apparently settled for a single. It was Glenn Maxwell who not only realized that Axar Patel was making a meal out of it in the outfield, but also understood the importance of this race. That single meant Bangalore would need a six on the last ball and if Maxwell had kept the strike with just one they would have needed a seven. And who knows without that pressure to prevent a six that could win the game, Khan might not have thrown a wide ball next. So Maxwell urged Bharat to come back on strike – and boy! he seized the opportunity in style.

Until this wide and full throw, Khan had burst his heart. Just like Anrich Nortje had done before him. Not only did Nortje knock out forerunners Devdutt Padikkal (picked up again the third time on another untimely ramp shot from a short ball) and Virat Kohli, he knocked down a very tight 19th in the pursuit. Bangalore needed 19 points from two overs, and Nortje allowed just four to keep the game wide open in the final. Until Bharat decides to seize the moment.

Bharat makes a Miandad

Bharat absorbed the pressure from the first wickets and gave Maxwell the freedom to go. Whenever Patel arrived, Bharat was waiting for him. Or that’s what it seemed. A six and a four in the Powerplay and when the left arm spinner lit in the middle, Bharat repeated the dose again. He charged down the track, swept quick arm balls, and crashed into blankets to keep the pressure on the spinner. And when Maxwell began to tire and sweat visibly in the humidity, Bharat took up the torch.

The shot that proved he was up to the challenge came in 17th. When 39 were needed in 21 balls, he smoked a superb shot from Kagiso Rabada on the midwicket. This not only earned him six points, but would have indicated to Maxwell that he didn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.

Maxwell shines again

Two seasons after finally admitting to himself and the world that he suffered from depression and sought medical attention, Maxwell 2.0 has been up and running as well as he could have hoped. Over the past few years he has faced some criticism for his paychecks not matching his performance at the IPL. But he repaid the confidence shown by RCB this year and was the main reason they made it to the playoffs.

Delhi with oily palms

If only Delhi had kept two relatively straightforward chances that Maxwell gave Patel in the 14th, the game might not even have reached the final with all options open. With 80 needed over seven overs, the Australian launched against the left arm spinner. First, Shreyas Iyer dropped a goalie in the middle of the deep wicket for the first ball. Then after Maxwell deployed a reverse sweep and a switch flick, he dominated a sweep only for R Ashwin to drop him to the third man short. Maxwell then struck and pushed his way down to reduce the required stroke rate before Bharat applied the finishing touches.