RCB steam ahead on AB power

De Villiers smashes 23-ball fifty as Bangalore defeat Pune Warriors by 17 runs

RCB steam ahead on AB power

The Royal Challengers Bangalore survived a mighty scare from Robin Uthappa before pulling off a nervy 17-run win over Pune Warriors to register their first away win at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium here on Thursday.

Chasing Royal Challengers’ stiff total of 187/3, the hosts looked down and out half-way through their chase when they were reduced to 81 for four in 11 overs. Uthappa (75, 45b, 5x4, 5x6), indifferent with the bat for most part of this season, threatened to script an improbable win with no little help from Angelo Mathews (32, 19b, 3x6).

The duo plundered 63 runs in just 33 balls to bring Pune right back into contention. The ever-reliable R Vinay Kumar (3/31) did get the Royal Challengers back in the game dismissing Mathews, but Uthappa posed a potent threat before Murali Kartik did the dangerous batsman in. Once the Karnataka opener was dismissed, Warriors’ challenge too fizzled out, finishing their innings at 170/9.   
   
Two contrasting half-centuries coupled with useful cameos by Kohli (25, 18b, 3x4) and Moises Henriques (27 n.o., 13b, 4x4, 1x6) had powered Royal Challengers to an impressive total after a sedate start on what was believed to be a sluggish surface.
The Royal Challengers, opting to bat first, never looked like posting a total they eventually managed but man of the match AB de Villiers (50 n.o., 23b, 6x4, 2x6) accelerated in the slog overs after a composed fifty by Saurabh Tiwary (52, 45b, 2x4, 2x6).

Tough period

Having traded Ravi Rampaul, Abhinav Mukund and Jaydev Unadkat for Muralitharan, KL Rahul and Arun Karthik, the Royal Challengers promoted Tiwary to open the innings along with Chris Gayle. The two left-handers found it difficult to pace the innings against a myriad slow bowlers introduced by Pune skipper Aaron Finch.

Gayle, who had decimated Pune attack in the previous match, did begin with a four off the second ball he faced but slowed down after that. Or rather he was tied down by a combination of tidy bowling and the perceived slow nature of the pitch. That they could manage just 30 runs in the first six overs of Power Play, spoke about their struggles. Gayle did swat part-time off-spinner T Suman, bowling for the first time this season, for a huge six but was out the next ball attempting for the same result, brilliantly caught by Bhuvneshwar Kumar at extra cover.

At this stage a score of around 150 appeared realistic but two enterprising partnerships helped the Bangalore side convert a potential middling total into a big one. The first one was between Kohli and Tiwary that produced 63 runs in 39 balls. While Kohli, who carted Yuvraj Singh for three fours in one over, was his usual confident self, Tiwary paced his innings well. Having done little of note in his previous hits in the middle-order, Tiwary finally got going at the top.

Even as the two were growing in strength, Ashok Dinda, introduced in the 13th over, struck two blows removing both the set batsmen in quick succession to peg the innings back. With 119/3 at the start of the 15th over, Pune would have hoped to restrict the visitors to an achievable target but de Villiers and Henriques had other ideas.

Fiery batting

The two right-handers made mockery of the apparent slowness of the wicket, clobbering 68 runs in just 29 balls for the unbroken fifth-wicket stand. Bhuvneshwar bowled an excellent 19th over conceding just seven runs and with Dinda in prime form, wasn’t expected to go for much.

De Villiers, as has been his wont, destroyed the paceman’s figures with a bruising assault that even the Pune supporters couldn’t help but applaud. The South African hammered the Bengal bowler for 26 runs in the final over – the sequence reading 6, 4, 6, 4, 4, 2 – as RCB’s total swelled exponentially.

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