RCB Feels the Pinch of Salt


“I would say that one of my strengths is that I don’t usually ease off the gas pedal once I get going,” says Phil Salt, who exudes a sense of calm not only when batting but also when speaking into the microphone.

In their pursuit of a target of 182, the Delhi Capitals had gotten off to a blazing start, thanks to their best opening partnership of the season.

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However, Mohammed Siraj, who has been the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s most effective bowler in the PowerPlay during IPL 2023, returned for his second over in search of a vital breakthrough.

The first ball of Siraj’s over was a short one, but despite top-edging his pull, Phil Salt had connected well enough to send the ball sailing comfortably over the wicketkeeper’s head and beyond the sight screen, into the stands.

The next delivery was another short ball, but this time Salt was in complete control and hit it flat over the sweeper cover.

Salt then stepped out of his crease and effortlessly flicked a length ball over midwicket for a boundary with just one bounce.

Prior to this match, Siraj had maintained an impressive economy rate of 5.64 in the first six overs, but in just three balls, he had already given away 16 runs.

Siraj decided to bowl more short-pitched deliveries, but the third one flew over the batsman’s head, causing Salt to grin and appeal to the square-leg umpire for a wide.

The exchange between Salt and Siraj became heated, and the two captains had to intervene, with Faf du Plessis taking Siraj off.

Salt’s assault was so deflating that Siraj never returned to the attack, having conceded 19 runs in the over and 29 runs during his new ball spell.

True to his word, Salt did not lower his guard even after rattling the opposition’s best bowler, both literally and figuratively.

Salt’s explosive 45-ball knock of 87 dominated the rest of the match, as he led the charge in chasing down the target of 182 with 20 balls to spare.

Not only did Salt spare no bowler, he smashed the four spinners for 50 runs in just 30 balls at a strike-rate of 166.7, while hammering the pacers for 37 runs in only 15 balls at a staggering 246.7 strike-rate.

The Englishman, who was born in Barbados, quickly gauged the length of the deliveries and used his brute strength to smash half a dozen sixes and eight more boundaries.

He finished with a strike-rate of 193.33, ignoring the pitch, conditions, and match-ups to launch a display of raw, unadulterated power hitting.

Salt’s relentless assault on the opposition allowed for a steady dip in Delhi’s required run-rate, giving his struggling teammates the freedom to rediscover their form.

In fact, every other batsman who came to the crease during Delhi’s chase had a strike-rate of at least 153.

Beyond the records and statistics, Salt’s match-winning innings will give Delhi Capitals a sense of relief and renewed confidence in their batting, which has been a source of concern this season.

In their last four matches, Delhi had won three on the back of their strong bowling performances.

They had restricted KKR to a meager 127 at home, before defending sub-150 scores in Hyderabad and Gujarat.

The team’s batting had yet to step up and perform, but it did so at a crucial moment when even the slightest mistake could have jeopardized their playoff hopes.

Before the game, Delhi Capitals had struggled with their opening partnership.

Their two opening pairs had the lowest average among all ten teams, scoring only 143 runs in nine innings at an average of 15.89.

The partnership between Phil Salt and David Warner had only managed 1 run in three attempts, and DC had lost the second-most number of wickets (21) in the PowerPlay this season.

Apart from Warner, none of the other batters – foreign or domestic – had shown any consistency, leading to calls for Axar Patel’s promotion to a higher batting position.

The misfiring foreign contingent had indirectly contributed to Warner’s conservative approach and middling statistics this year, with an average of 34.2 and a strike-rate of 118.5.

Salt stepped up to the plate and delivered an impressive performance that answered the calls for consistent batting from Delhi Capitals.

He took charge in the opening partnership with David Warner, and the two put on 60 runs, which is now the team’s best opening stand this IPL and their first fifty-plus opening partnership.

The partnership also led to Delhi’s best PowerPlay show (70/1) in the season, setting the tone for a commanding chase.

Even though Salt had two ducks away from home, he showed his mettle by scoring back-to-back fifties on the challenging batting pitches of the Arun Jaitley Stadium, which would undoubtedly take some pressure off his captain.

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In contrast to a previous game against SRH where Salt scored his first IPL fifty, he made sure that DC didn’t lose momentum during the middle overs by attacking the spinners with the same aggression.

DC’s scoring rate was 11.67 in the Powerplay, and it only slightly dipped to 10.67 in the overs between 7-15.

Although the damage had already been done, it took the hosts just 10 more balls to complete the chase.

In the middle of the game, Virat Kohli, who scored a half-century for RCB, believed that they had set a target of about 160, which was 20 runs above par.

However, Phil Salt’s remarkable T20 batting display shattered that notion. Salt admitted that attacking Siraj from the outset was a significant part of DC’s aggressive strategy that had been lacking so far this season.

After being awarded the Player of the Match for his incredible performance, Salt credited his attacking approach and revealed that targeting the opposition’s best bowler was a big part of their strategy.

He believes that by taking on the best bowler, the message is sent back to the dressing room that everyone can do it too, and it encourages other players to step up and play more freely.

Salt cited the examples of Mitch Marsh and Rilee Rossouw, who came out and played fearlessly after his own impressive innings.

He explained that this approach is the method behind their success and the reason they were able to secure a much-needed victory.

Salt emphasized the importance of setting the tone at the top of the order and taking pressure off the middle order.

He acknowledged that his aggressive approach might come with some risk, but it also provided him with the opportunity to put the opposition on the back foot and create a winning position for his team.

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Salt’s mindset, according to him, was all about accepting the highs and lows that come with such an approach and taking the responsibility to score runs that help his team win.

Salt provided a constructive critique of their own performance, particularly among the batting group, around the midpoint of the tournament, which gave the team a clear understanding of the style of cricket that the Capitals wanted to play.

This clarity has been translating into success on the field for the team.

Salt revealed that their success in the recent games was the result of a constructive critique of their performance, which was done after a few games.

He said that they reviewed what they were doing right, what they needed to improve on, and what they had done well.

In the batting group, the focus was on throwing the first punches and putting the pressure back on the bowling side.

This little chat helped them to gain clarity and play with freedom, which ultimately translated into success on the field.

Delhi Capitals have struggled in their batting department this season despite some strong performances by their bowlers.

However, with Phil Salt leading the charge, the batting unit finally came to life in the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Salt’s impressive knock not only helped the team secure a crucial victory but also gave the other misfiring batsmen the confidence to perform.

Salt’s strategy of taking on the opposition’s best bowler proved to be effective and set the tone for a commanding chase.

His success in the middle overs against the spinners ensured that Delhi didn’t lose momentum and they chased down the target with ease.

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Salt’s performance also highlighted the importance of a constructive critique within the team and helped them gain clarity on the brand of cricket they wanted to play.

With their playoffs chances hanging in the balance, Delhi Capitals would be hoping that their newfound freedom and the pressure of being in the must-win territory continues to bring out the best in them.