Pune too good for Challengers

Bengaluru slip to 27-run defeat after another poor batting effort at home

Pune too good for Challengers

Royal Challengers Bangalore once again belied their reputation as one of the best batting line-ups in the Indian Premier League as they dished out another poor batting performance, resulting in their fourth defeat in five matches of the 10th edition.

 Having allowed Rising Pune Supergiant to post a competitive 161/8, Royal Challengers found the going tough on a Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch where playing shots became progressively difficult. Virat Kohli, who earned a reprieve early in his innings, and AB de Villiers were their biggest hopes in countering the slow nature of the surface but with the duo departing to low scores, their hopes extinguished in double quick time.

Despite some big-hitting towards the back end of the innings, the hosts could manage only 134 for nine to suffer a 27-run defeat and slip to the bottom of the standings. The Supergiant thus ended their three-match losing run to register their second win in five matches to be placed sixth.

RCB had a decent start to their chase with Kohli collecting a brisk 28 (19b, 3x4, 1x6) but he played poor shot to a bouncing delivery by Ben Stokes to perish early. De Villiers played some trademark shots and held out a brief hope but beyond that it was one big struggle for the local side. That they went 37 deliveries without a single boundary at one stage of their innings reflected the sluggishness of their batting.
 
 Supergiant made best use of the power play after being sent in, racing to 50 off the first five overs as Ajinkya Rahane (30 off 25 balls) and Rahul Tripathi (31 off 23) mixed their aggressive intent with some smart cricket. Adam Milne, playing only his second match in two seasons in place of a sick Tymal Mills, began on a good note giving away just three runs in the opening over but was taken to cleaners in his next over which cost 17 runs for the home team. Arvind then leaked 13 runs in his opening over, setting the base for the best power play score on this venue in this edition – 55/0 in 6 overs.

The tempo, however, slowed down once RCB prised out both the set openers in quick succession. Samuel Badree, the hat-trick man in the previous match against Mumbai, cleaned up Rahane with a googly which the batsman failed to read while Tripathi fell to a brilliant piece of work at cover by Kohli. The home skipper dived to his left to pluck a full-blooded drive off Pawan Negi just inches from the ground.

That linked up MS Dhoni, who walked to roaring reception by the crowd, with Steve Smith in the middle and Pune needed all their experience and enterprise to post a challenging total. The duo struggled to pace the innings to their liking as RCB spinners – Badree and Pawan Negi – bowled miserly spells in the middle overs. Where their openers took 46 balls to score 63 runs, Smith-Dhoni added 58 runs in 46 balls.

Just when the two appeared to be changing gears, Dhoni was cleaned up Shane Watson, triggering an extraordinary collapse. Including Dhoni, Pune lost five wickets in the space of nine balls while adding just three runs to almost bat themselves out of the game (130/7 in 17.2 overs) before Manoj Tiwary played the gem of an innings (27 off 11 balls, 3x4, 2x6) to propel the visitors to what eventually turned out to be a winning total.   
  

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