When Royal Challengers Bangalore's director of cricket operation Mike Hesson said ahead of the game against Lucknow Super Giants that from a batting perspective his side had to get its strategy right on a consistent basis, he was probably alluding to the match against Delhi Capitals a few days earlier. Then, two batting stalwarts Glenn Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik had played stellar knocks and Shahbaz Ahmed had played a cameo to guide them to an imposing 189. A similar template was used against LSG in RCB's 18-run victory at the DY Patil Satdium, where skipper Faf du Plessis smashed a belligerent 64-ball 96 and Maxewll and Ahmed too did their bit with the bat. "So, from a batting point of view, we probably got it right once (against DC). So, here is another opportunity (against LSG) for us to get it right as a batting unit. We got enough experience to defend on that surface," Hesson had said. In a similar display, the Challengers ripped through the ranks of the Lucknow Super Giants in what one would call a clinical display of vision, aggression and some intelligent captaincy.
Du Plessis, who was seeing wickets tumble at the other end, took his time to get his eyes in and then started attacking. He frequently got on top of the balls, playing some exotic strokes that had his intentions of making a comeback clear. He didn't play one tentative shot and played the instrumental role of upping the run-rate when Shahbaz Ahmed played a silent spectator at the other end. By the time he was done, he had already garnered 96 runs from just 64 balls. Shahbaz Ahmed too played a composed innings of 26 from 22 balls. It was his calmness that helped the Challengers turn the tide from where Faf and DK propelled them to 181. In the bowling department too, Australian pace spearhead Josh Hazlewood has started to look invincible in just three games for RCB. After bowling a decent spell against Chennai where the other bowlers went for a toss, he was just brilliant against the Delhi Capitals. However, if that was a prelude to what was to come, then in the showdown against LSG, he claimed the wickets of Quinton de Kock, Manish Pandey, Ayush Badoni and Marcus Stoinis. More importantly, he kept things very tight as he bowled a spell of four overs from which he just conceded 25 runs. With the fifth win of the season from seven games, RCB have climbed to the second position on the the points table. They will be up against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their next encounter on Saturday and, hopefully, will continue to build on the template put in place by Hesson.