Bowlers deliver at last for RCB

RAZOR SHARP: RCB's players celebrate the run out of Mumbai Indians' J P Duminy in the IPL match in Bengaluru on Tuesday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Royal Challengers Bangalore broke free from the Mumbai Indians’ stranglehold, scoring a 14-run victory to inject some much-needed life into their floundering IPL campaign here on Tuesday.

RCB had lost their last five games against MI, including the previous three at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and it seemed a sixth was on the cards after their batsmen were able to muster only 167/7. Pilloried for some abysmal performances till now, RCB bowlers finally put their hands up, procuring good support from a helpful pitch to restrict the visitors to 153/7.

With their third victory of the season from eight matches, RCB thus moved to fifth position on the table, with six points.

Pacer Tim Southee set the ball rolling for RCB in the defence, crashing through the gates of Ishan Kishan in the last ball of the opening over. Umesh Yadav then put RCB on top in the fourth over, first trapping an in-form Suryakumar Yadav before sending back Rohit Sharma with a peach.

Staring down the barrel at 47/4, Mumbai's hopes rested on J P Duminy and the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal. RCB further tightened the noose on MI after running Duminy out to reduce the visitors to 84/5 in the last ball of the 12th over.

The Pandya brothers then mixed caution with aggression and as their partnership grew, jitters started to creep into the RCB camp. And when Colin de Grandomme conceded 17 runs in the 16th over to reduce the equation to 45 off 24 balls, RCB started to feel the heat. But Southee bowled an exceptional 18th over, giving away just five runs, before Mohammed Siraj removed Krunal in the next over. Once Krunal departed, RCB performed the final rites to seal a hard-fought win.

Earlier, on a somewhat sluggish pitch that assisted the spinners and made shot-making difficult, RCB kept losing wickets exactly when the set batsmen were about to explode after getting a measure of the surface to eventually settle for a mediocre total. Opener Manan Vohra (45) perished first, adjudged leg-before wicket to Mayank Markande, just when he was starting to play the big shots after a period of lull.

Brendon McCullum (37) and skipper Virat Kohli (32) joined forces and the experienced duo injected the much-needed momentum with some calculated risk-taking. McCullum played the role of the aggressor, carting Hardik for two sixes and a four in the 10th over, while Kohli was the anchorman, picking up quick singles and rotating the strike in his usual busy style.

A brilliant piece of fielding from Hardik -- the all-rounder picking up a rasping shot from McCullum and then knocking the stumps down -- saw the Kiwi well short of the crease as RCB were reduced to 121/3. In-coming Mandeep looked good from the onset, and with Kohli for company at the other end, the hosts entertained genuine hopes of getting close to 180.

All that vanished though after a stunning 18th over bowled by Hardik where he dismissed both Mandeep and Kohli off successive balls. Those blows shook RCB to the core but de Grandhomme bailed them out with a wonderful assault in the final over to help RCB reach a semblance of respectability.

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Bowlers deliver at last for RCB

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