IPL 2023: Siraj does a Siraj, wreaks havoc with the ball

Siraj masterclass thwarts Punjab Kings as Kohliโ€™s return to captaincy brings RCB back to winning ways.

Virat Kohli returned to captaincy, and with it his hyper-exuberant self. Playing at one of his favourite venues in Mohali, he first helped Royal Challengers to a decent total, and then had a productive evening in the field โ€” be it in the form of bowling changes, the Decision Review System, orchestrating the crowd or maintaining the intensity of his troops, which resulted in two run-outs from direct hits. The 24-run win over Punjab Kings brought RCB back into the reckoning in the competition.
A target of 175 in a day game would normally make the chasing team favourites, but RCB had a trump card up their sleeve in Mohammed Siraj, whose improvement graph over the last 12 months has gone off the charts. The Punjab Kings batsmen were short on experience and seemed intent on scoring at a quicker pace than was probably necessary. Every big shot, which went to the boundary or over it, was invariably followed by a wicket as batsmen couldnโ€™t help themselves.

Siraj masterclass

Siraj has become sharper, getting appreciable bounce and good movement, and his wobble seam delivery has confounded batsmen around the world in various formats. The first ball of the innings was flicked by left-hander Atharv Taide for a boundary, but LBW is a constant threat with Siraj as he seldom gives the stumps away, and both Taide and Liam Livingstone fell in that fashion. When Punjab Kings threatened to come back from the dead, he returned in the 18th over to get rid of the troublesome Harpreet Brar, followed by the wicket of Nathan Ellis. Sirajโ€™s spell of 4/21 effectively decided the outcome of the contest.

Wanindu Hasaranga has been prolific in the shortest format for Sri Lanka as well, but anyone who has watched him for any length of time will know that the googly is his most potent weapon. But neither Aussie Matthew Short nor the hard-hitting Shahrukh Khan seemed to have read the memo. Both of them charged the leg-spinner as if there was no tomorrow, and made no contact with the ball.

Only Prabhsimran Singh at the top of the order (46 in 30 balls) and Jitesh Sharma (41 in 27) put up any sustained effort towards overhauling the target. Punjab Kings would regret the fact that the asking rate never ballooned to unreasonable territory, but they never managed to get any significant partnerships.

Captains past & present

Earlier, with Faf du Plessis less than 100 percent in fitness, it was Kohli who took the lead in scoring in the first three overs. But as is always the case with him, the boundaries came off cricketing shots, devoid of much risk. The South African came into his own in the fourth over bowled by left-arm spinner Brar, in which he hit two sixes as 17 came off those six balls.
That seemed to open the floodgates as runs started to flow from both ends, without either player looking like getting out. The Powerplay yielded 59 runs for the visitors.

Sam Curran, continuing to lead Punjab Kings in Shikhar Dhawanโ€™s absence, tried everything at his disposal, even going to part-time spinner Livingstone, to no avail. The score reached 91/0 at the half way stage, with Du Plessis already reaching a fifty off 31 balls. He had long overtaken the captain for the day in strike rate as well. A century opening partnership was the ideal launch pad for a big score, even though the scoring rate dipped a bit.

The openers took the innings into the 17th over with the score reaching only 137. So when Kohli got out to Brar, next batsman Glenn Maxwell had no time to get set. He went for a big shot off the first ball, and got caught at the edge of the circle. Du Plessis didnโ€™t have much of the strike during this period, and understood the urgency of the situation. He hit Nathan Ellis for a six, but got out next ball attempting an encore, after scoring an 56-ball 84.

After getting a score of 174/4 in 20 overs, RCB would have been left wondering whether they made the optimum use of their resources. In the end, the score proved to be more than enough.

Chahar chokes runs
RCB were on the ascendancy during the Powerplay, and if their momentum was halted after that, most of the credit should go to leg-spinner Rahul Chahar. Kohliโ€™s strike rate against spin, especially after the Powerplay, often takes a dip, and it did so again on Thursday. Chaharโ€™s first over, the seventh of the innings, went for just four runs. Overall, he only conceded two boundaries in his spell, both hit by Du Plessis. He was done inside 13 overs, giving only 24 runs in his four overs, and had pulled the scoring rate back with a clever mixture of pace, flight and change of line and trajectory.

The straight boundaries at Mohali are a lot shorter than the square ones but to his credit, Chahar made it difficult for the batsmen to hit him down the ground. Apart from the two fours, all the other runs scored off him came in singles, a testament to the control he exerted on two rampaging batsmen.


  • Adam Gray

    Adam Gray is an experienced journalist with a passion for breaking news and delivering it to the masses. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has covered everything from local stories to national events, earning a reputation for his accuracy, reliability, and attention to detail. As a reporter, Adam is always on the lookout for the next big story, and his dedication to uncovering the truth has earned him the respect of his peers and readers alike. When he's not chasing down leads, Adam can be found poring over the latest headlines, always on the lookout for the next big scoop. Contact [email protected]