New Delhi: A captain is as good as his bowlers. The phrase holds good for Dinesh Karthik as his smart decisions against RR paid rich dividends. It was his bowlers, especially spinners stood up for him and ensured KKR tightened the noose.
Realising the need to start with spinners against RR openers Ajinkya Rahane and D'Arcy Short proved fruitful as both the batters prefer pace at the start. But facing spin upfront meant they could not get used to the pace of the wicket. Moreover, spinners Piyush Chawla hit the good length area mixing up his variations to keep Short guessing.
In a T20, it is the first six overs that set the tone for a team putting a total and failure to dominate that phase could lead you to play catch up in the next 14 overs.
With the wicket dry, Karthik realised that it will be spin that will make the difference. So he bowled three overs from Chawla in the powerplay. The UP spinner gave 13 runs in three overs. Only Sunil Narine looked out of sorts as he gave 18 runs in the fourth over and RR had some respite.
If you minus Narine's overs, who proved to be the most expensive, Chawla, Yadav and Nitish Rana not only bowled tight but also picked wickets to put hosts under pressure at their fortress. Yes, Rahane was desperate to score at a brisk pace after RR were 48/0 in the powerplay, he was stumped the next over by Rana. That was a huge wicket as had Rahane stood there for a longer time, the equation could have been different. It was Rahane who had started to play shots and should have carried his bat through.
Karthik made sure he channelised his resources in a way that all his quick bowlers were used in the period from over 9-12 ensuring he has quite some overs left of his spinners.
Once Short milked the pacers, Karthik brought in the golden arm Rana and without any doubt, he provided the breakthrough. Strike two. And then when Stokes came out to bat, he brought in Chawla who got him pulling his length a touch short forcing him to hole out. Combining the ten overs bowled by Chawla, Rana and Yadav, the three of them only gave 52 runs and also shared 4 wickets between them. On a day when Narine was hit for 48 in his four overs, the other three spinners made sure Narine's off-day didn't pinch them much.