RCB embrace

RCB celebrates the moments and the numbers in a historic victory.

Sport ultimately comes down to moments and math. Consult MS Dhoni. Despite all his achievements for his country and club, he also has a great sense of spontaneity. Far into Saturday’s last hour, he was involved in another one (May 18). The actual event, though, was equally about him and it wasn’t.

Leading CSK in a mad dash outside to greet the people who had narrowly missed his team’s final playoff berth, Dhoni was shaking hands with them. But the winners, RCB, were not easily accessible. The truth is, they were genuinely unsure of what to do following the last ball. A few leaped to their feet and then fell to the grass. Two of them ran off in one direction, only to discover that the others were moving in the opposite direction. A few cried, while others gripped their heads. A few gripped the heads of others. After a little while, Dhoni turned back to the dressing room. letting Ruturaj Gaikwad and associates handle the formalities. After that, he was nowhere to be seen on the pitch in yellow. If he ever would be is a mystery.

At times, T20 cricket may seem excessively significant in the context of contemporary cricket, with statistics, lineups, and entrance points that practically speak for themselves. It appears to be straining cricket to the limit in some respects, concentrating all of its wealth in one area, and turning the game into something that was created by an AI system. However, it also provides us with this: a combination of data and story with exquisitely crafted patterns and margins. RCB chased an unusual figure all night long—the net run rate—but in the process, they had unforgettable experiences.

This was one of those instances where the show gets a huge billing, faces threats of cancellation from the elements and eventually ends up becoming more than a show. As it turned out, the two sets of protagonists, egged on by an incredible energy from beyond the ropes, came together to produce a deeply moving performance out of shared, but separate efforts as well as the coming together of their individual backstories, their will to put all their practice into play, to read one another’s movements and to refuse to give in.

When Ravindra Jadeja hit the final ball of the game’s penultimate over for six, everyone was aware of Dhoni’s past. And Dhoni doesn’t often let these significant events pass him by. Oddly enough, just like his silent departure, the excitement surrounding his arrival as early as the 15th over was mostly muffled by the audience’s continued audible guffawing at slow-motion reruns of Faf du Plessis’s incredible physical prowess. However, with the years-long companion Jadeja by his side, Dhoni reduced the qualifying target from 72 off 30 to 17 off the last over.

A man named Yash Dayal, who had a very different background, was waiting for him. After ingesting the hate that social media had directed at him for failing to contain 28 in the last over, he was left severely injured and even became ill a year ago. Up until that moment, he had overcome the setback with remarkable resilience and emerged as a key figure in RCB’s comeback tale. However, after Dhoni hit a friendly full-toss 110 metres out of the stadium, all those negative emotions returned.

Dayal wasn’t even the designated bowler for the final over. It was originally intended for him to bowl the 19th, but a late change of heart resulted from a conversation between du Plessis and Dinesh Karthik. Dayal claimed he increased his efforts to focus on playing the following ball rather than watching the scoreboard after giving up that six. He had spent hours practicing this move.

Dayal was not meant to be in this place. He was supposed to end up as just another name on the IPL’s infamous list. On the day of the game, Malolan Rangarajan, the assistant coach and head of talent scouting for RCB, disclosed how he and his staff had dedicated their time to comprehending the characters of the players.

“Because we genuinely believe the weight of playing for RCB is slightly different,” he stated. “Because you walk into a dressing room filled with extremely famous people and high expectations till you win your first competition. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ is something that may be said very politely. However, you enter a dressing room that, in my opinion, has one of the most devoted and loud fan groups; it benefits both parties. You get used to handling it. A few people gain knowledge from it, and a few others may be impacted.”

Dayal was clearly a member of the former group because he was bowling the last over in such a momentous game. However, T20 is mercilessly chaotic. Even more so for a bowler bowling Dhoni’s final over in a packed, hopeful stadium. Seldom is there time for recuperation, reflection, or planning. It is possible to bowl all varieties or even a sequence of yorkers in low-stakes contests at times. Since less thought equals less mess. Dayal’s ability to buy some extra time was beneficial because Dhoni had already sent the ball out of the stadium. That meant he and RCB would have to try their luck at defending 11 from 5 with a new, drier ball.

Once more, he reappeared, perhaps offended by the notion that there was no longer any chance to save this. A peculiar type of silence descended across the renowned, old stadium as he bowled the master finisher a slower delivery that went high into the moist Bengaluru air. As Swapnil Singh took a seat beneath the catch, a sound of somewhat tense tension leaked out.

And you noticed something change in that moment, a feeling that the day was beginning to unfold. In a more important game last year, Jadeja had chased down 10 from 2. But this night, his blade’s two swishes met only with air.

The notion that CSK, the representatives of composure, were emotionally weak and brittle, and that RCB were likewise seemed out of date at that moment. RCB is an emotional team both on the inside and the outside. When Mohammed Siraj and Virat Kohli bookend an XI, there’s not much of an option. Due to the teams, personalities, stories, and stakes involved, today’s game was also characterized by elevated emotions. Even the notoriously equipoise Dhoni punched his bat and muttered to himself as he departed the field.

RCB ran and flourished on those feelings tonight. Throughout the defense, Kohli, the team’s vitality and the reason for their turnaround, was, as usual, a ferret-like blur of red and blue. He let out a joyful yell, argued with the umpires to have the ball replaced, threw the ball erratically more than once, and dutifully manned every blade of grass that was allotted to him.

But there was also the cold, calculated side to all of those feelings. The pitch behaved like a “fifth-day wicket in Ranchi” due to an unexpected deluge, and it was Kohli who used the slog-sweep against Jadeja and Mitchell Santner to recover the momentum that the rain break had taken away from them. Following that, Du Plessis, Rajat Patidar, and Cameron Green took it upon themselves, playing a kind of knives-out T20 cricket similar to what CSK had served them at this same stadium the previous year. That evening, RCB reached their highest score against CSK of 218 but were eight runs short. They achieved a score of 218 batting first tonight, providing themselves with enough leverage to double their advancement.

Other numbers were in the middle of the chaos of the winning moments. Dhoni dismissed for just 13 runs in two overs of left-arm spin before being caught by Swapnil Singh. Despite sitting out nearly the entire impressive run, Glenn Maxwell hit for sixteen runs off of five balls, removed Ruturaj Gaikwad for a duck, and most importantly, won his match against Shivam Dube and Rachin Ravindra with figures of one for twenty-five.

In a week, this victory and the inspiring comeback from a 1-7 start to the season may mean absolutely nothing on the IPL scoresheet. As some of the people sneaking out of a boisterous and rowdy post-midnight after-party on MG Road were quick to point out, it may be easy to become a little sick on all the RCB-waffle. Even in the event that the math is off, RCB will still have its moments.