The Royal Challengers have no one to blame but themselves after the Kings XI cruised to a close victory today. At the same time Punjab made a meal of a game they were looking favourites to win. The significance of this victory was immense for both sides as now the winner, Punjab goes into the top 4 of the league standings ahead of Chennai.
Having not started off well, with Mayank Agarwal making the long walk back, the Challengers began a stable innings with Gayle and Kohli taking it from there. The run rate was just over 6 till the slog overs after which Gayle began his fireworks. Scoring 53 runs in three middle overs got the Bangalore crowd on their feet as they anticipated a high scoring innings. Unfortunately, ball no. 42 seemed to be unlucky for both batsmen as they got out on that delivery they faced. The Jamaican played a superb innings of 71 in 42 balls while Virat scored 45 and they shared a 119 run partnership for the second wicket. But even as they were sent back, there wasn’t much tension around as de Villiers and McDonald were in the middle. And that is when the game changed. They played an extremely slow, non-offensive innings and a little bit of slogging at last took the total to a meager 158.
This was sure to have inspired David Hussey’s team, as they felt the restricted total was easily achievable. Out came Mandeep Singh and Shaun Marsh, the former looking in form as the latter was sent back by McDonald. Saini, the new man at crease, with assistance from Singh made full use of the field restrictions, taking the run rate up to 10, a feat Bangalore couldn’t achieve.Vettori would have thought the wicket of Mandeep would change the game, but Hussey came out and clobbered every bowler to set up a tense Punjab win with a ball to spare. There were jitters in Preity Zinta’s camp when Mahmood, Saini, Hussey and Abhishek Nayar departed in quick succession, falling to some brain-freeze and poor running between the wickets. With just 7 required off the last 12 deliveries, Zheer sent down a miserly over which gave away just 2 runs while 2 Punjab batsmen got run out. Vinay Kumar bowled a couple of tight deliveries as the target came down to 2 from 2, when Piyush Chawla managed to hit a maximum and seal the victory for the visitors.
Where the game was won and lost:
1) Poor start:
RCB should have gotten off to a better start as they couldn’t really gain momentum later on. Once again, it was Gayle who fired mainly for the team and maybe a good 60 runs in the first 6 overs would have helped them set a target of 180 on the board. On the other side, Hussey’s men knew what they had to do and decided to go at it right from the beginning to avoid problems at the end of the innings.
As mentioned in the preview, I spoke of how important partnerships would prove to be in today’s game. Many thought Gayle and Kohli’s magnificent partnership would make the difference as the game progressed, but Punjab’s small but consistent partnerships beat them to the task.
3) Last minute scramble:
In the last few overs Bangalore bowled remarkably and showed excellence in the field that helped bring the match, which was well swinging in Punjab’s favor, to a much closer finish. The players would be thinking that if they’d displayed the same performance right throughout the game, they would have been seeing themselves going up the table and not further below.
Interesting fact: The reverse fixture saw RCB win a game that the Kings XI were favorites to win, coming back from 25/3, while this game saw the Bangalore team looking to edge it out towards the end, but Punjab weren’t going to let their top order efforts go in vain. Tit for tat!
Overall, a great, nervy game of cricket, where both teams showed a little inconsistency, but undoubtedly a well deserved victory for the better team on the night. RCB now are in a bit of a problem, having not won any of their last 4 games and would look to bounce back in the next match while the Kings XI would bask in their successful turnaround.
Royal Challengers Bangalore – 158/5 (20/20 ov) (CH Gayle 71, V Kohli 45, A Mahmood 3-20)
Kings XI Punjab – 163/6 (19.5/20 ov) (N Saini 50, D Hussey 45, A McDonald 2-25)
Man of the Match – Azhar Mahmood