Kings XI lord over Challengers

Kings XI lord over Challengers

Kings XI lord over Challengers

 Kings XI Punjab completed a brilliant double over struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore, registering an emphatic 32-run victory on Friday to take a huge step towards securing a play-off berth in this edition of the Indian Premier League.

Riding on a destructive 66 from David Miller, Kings XI posted an imposing 198 for eight after being asked to bat first at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. Then man-of-the-match Sandeep Sharma came up with a fine bowling effort (3/25) to restrict Royal Challengers to 166 for nine.

Kings XI, who have lost only to Mumbai Indians this season, thus maintained their grip on the top position of the table with 14 points, and the day’s win was Kings XI’s second over RCB in this edition of the IPL after their five-wicket victory in the first leg match held at Dubai. But the crushing defeat -- their fifth -- has left Royal Challengers’ campaign in a major spot of bother as they have just six points from eight games.

Royal Challengers needed their misfiring batsmen to come good to overhaul the total, but once again their star-studded line-up floundered. Chris Gayle tried to go after Sandeep in the third over but the medium-pacer had the West Indian’s number for the second time in this IPL. Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha comfortably held on to an edge as the Royal Challengers lost their main hope with just eight on the board.

Sandeep then had the Royal Challengers reeling off the very next ball in controversial circumstances. His harmless ball down the leg-side took a faint edge of Virat Kohli’s bat but Saha appeared to have completed the catch on the bump. After a brief deliberation with the third umpire, on-field umpires ruled Kohli out, giving a big jolt to Royal Challengers’ hopes.

Wickets then kept falling at regular intervals with none of the batsmen, except AB de Villiers, showing stomach for fight. With just the tail for company to surmount an improbable target, the South African too fell soon, but after making an entertaining 26-ball 53.

While Royal Challengers faltered on a good batting track, the Kings XI batsmen went about their job in their usual efficient style. Openers Virender Sehwag and Mandeep Singh blended caution with aggression to get them off to a brisk start, coasting to 50 runs in just 5.1 overs. Although they never struck a six during their 60-run stay, the openers found the boundary at regular intervals and took smart singles whenever there weren’t any freebies on offer.

Just when things appeared to be getting out of their hands, Royal Challengers struck crucial blows, dismissing both the set openers in the space of one over. But that had little effect on the run-spree of the visitors as in-form Glenn Maxwell kept the momentum going with his 11-ball 25-run cameo before Miller bludgeoned the hosts into submission in destructive fashion.

The South African, one of the most feared batsmen in T20 cricket, came out all guns blazing, picking pacer Harshal Patel for special treatment. In sizzling touch from the word go, the 25-year-old, who smashed eight boundaries and three sixes, cashed in on the dollies offered by the Royal Challengers bowlers, who apart from Albie Morkel and Yuzvendra Chahal, appeared completely off the mark.

With his knock setting a strong foundation, and Sandeep rocking the Royal Challengers’ boat early on in their chase, Kings XI Punjab walked away comfortable victors.