Dominant Kings XI tame RCB

Punjab side cruise to eight-wicket win as de Villiers' unbeaten 89 goes in vain

Dominant Kings XI tame RCB

AB de Villiers was all class and character, but Kings XI Punjab put up a galvanized show to pull off a sublime eight-wicket victory in their Indian Premier League fixture at the Holkar Stadium on Monday.

A fit again de Villiers (89 n.o.) replaced Chris Gayle, and in his quintessential manner lifted RCB, which chose to bat, from a forgettable start. With his ruthless late charge, he destroyed the figures of Kings XI Punjab bowlers, and took RCB to a respectful total of 148/4.

Still, the good work of Kings bowlers, who hunted in packs and choked runs in the middle overs, stood them in good stead. The rest was done by their batsmen, with Hashim Amla (58 not out) and captain Glenn Maxwell (43 not out), finishing the contest with a certain insouciance and with 33 balls to spare.

Both were given lifelines by RCB. Amla, when on 20, was dropped on fine leg boundary by Billy Stanlake while Mandeep Singh dropped a sitter off Maxwell at point. He was 13 at that time. The two made the most of RCB’s generosity. There was no dearth of big strikes as both Amla and Maxwell dealt in boundaries.

The crowd, left mesmerized by de Villiers’s hitting, rooted wholeheartedly for RCB, but Kings XI never lost their focus in pursuit of the modest target. Amla with Manan Vohra raised a brisk 62 runs opening stand, before the Indian was caught plumb by Tymal Mills. Axar Patel was sent at No 3, ahead of Maxwell, but couldn’t contribute much. Yuzvendra Chahal, keeping up with his wicket-taking ability, got his bails swinging in the air. But that was all RCB could muster on the field.

Amla, who brought his half century with a pull off Watson, was not to err again. Nor did Maxwell.

Gayle left out
Earlier, RCB’s omission of Gayle created a bit of surprise. But it was quickly forgotten as de Villiers made a seamless transition to the fast-paced Twenty20 after an injury break, due to a strained back. With clean strikes and sublime timing, he left all and sundry in thrall to his genius. If one takes out his 89 from the team’s total, the remaining batsmen had scored just 59 runs!

Unlike the others, de Villiers was quick in reading the conditions and superb in his use of the crease. He surrendered himself to the situation before unleashing an array of aerial strokes. Kings XI were left gazing stupefied skywards at the rapid fireworks from the South African’s willow.

De Villiers’ exquisite batsmanship made amends to Challengers’ top order collapse. They were 22/3 during the powerplay losing captain Shane Watson who played on a Axar Patel delivery in the first over of the innings. Vishnu Vinod mistimed a pull in the fourth over before Kedar Jadhav was unlucky to be given leg before.

It instantly stifled the run scoring, despite de Villiers arriving in the second over, and squeezing a boundary to open his account. With Mandeep Singh he strung 46 runs for the fourth wicket before the Punjab batsman was brilliantly caught by Wriddhiman Saha. It reduced RCB to 68/4 in the 14th over and a score of 150 appeared to be rather distant. But then it is tough to keep an in-form de Villiers in a bind. With Stuart Binny at the other end, he swiftly shifted gears after the 15th over. He brought up his half century in the 18th over with a muscular heave to the stand, and Kings XI’s good work of the day laid scattered. The last five overs produced 77 runs for RCB, during which De Villiers slammed eight sixes, two of which came off the last two balls of the final over of Mohit Sharma. But his singular act didn’t suffice against Kings XI’s stroke makers.
DH News Service

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