RCB hold nerves in thriller

RCB hold nerves in thriller

With victory all but ensured, Royal Challengers somehow conspired to make things difficult for themselves before skipper Daniel Vettori’s (18, 19b, 1x4, 1x6) mature presence took them across the line. Chasing Daredevils’ challenging 160 for six, Challengers barely managed to reach 161 for seven, an effort that took them to the second position in the table behind leaders Mumbai Indians.

Despite losing opener Tillakaratne Dilshan to the second ball of the innings, Challengers scored runs at a torrent; and it wasn’t even Chris Gayle who was in forefront of Bangalore’s frenetic charge. Home boy Virat Kohli (56, 38b, 8x4, 2x6) got things off to a dream start with an array of exquisite strokes. The right-hander notched up six hits to the fence in the first nine balls he faced including four fours in Irfan Pathan’s opening over. He then hooked Ashok Dinda over fine-leg fence for six and cut Umesh Yadav for a similar result as RCB raced to 62 in the first five overs.

Gayle (26, 14b, 4x4, 1x6), who didn’t get much strike initially, came out of his slumber slamming Morne Morkel to cover fence before lifting him over long-on for a massive six. The left-right combination completely off-set Dilshan’s early loss collecting 82 runs in a matter of 43 balls. Just 78 needed with more than 16 overs, Challengers lost Gayle. It was a minor setback which was to soon assume alarming proportions.

 AB de Villiers was out running for a non-existent second run while Kohli played Morkel on. With pressure mounting, Cheteshwar Pujara holed out at mid-wicket before Saurabh Tiwary fell after some reviving act with Vettori. Abhimanyu Mithun fell to needless bravado but the clever Syed Mohammad and the cool Vettori made sure Challengers got home with three balls to spare. 
 
Challengers’ bowlers got off to one of their better starts of the season with Zaheer Khan and S Arvind showing rare discipline. Arvind was particularly unlucky as a couple of edges he forced didn’t quite carry to the fielders. Much was expected of Zaheer and the left-arm seamer produced perhaps his best show yet in terms of containing batsmen. His dismissal of the dangerous David Warner was particularly impressive, the ball shaping into the batsman to rattle the timber as he tried to whack it out of the park. With Warner gone early, the focus was on skipper Virender Sehwag who appeared in imperious touch. Just when the right-hander was looking all set to take the visitors’ attack apart, he was run-out going for a second run.

The enforcers out of sight, RCB did well to restrict the hosts to 68 in the first 10 overs, a score they would have gladly taken at the start of the match. Having called shots for better part of the first half of the innings, Challengers let things slip out of their control with some ordinary bowling and even worse fielding. James Hopes (54, 43b, 7x4) and Venugopala Rao (24, 21b, 2x4, 1x6) cashed in on the lapses to raise 47 runs in a matter of 35 balls. Abhimanyu Mithun, who replaced Asad Pathan, began promisingly by castling Mathew Wade with an yorker but slipped into his familiar failings. He dismissed Hopes off a no-ball and sent down quite a few wides, and the two wickets he earned in the bargain would have hardly satisfied him.

With Naman Ojha and Irfan using the long handle to good effect, Challengers conceded 86 runs in the last nine runs as Daredevils mustered a total that could well have been a winning one.   

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