Royal Challengers hit for a six!

Royal Challengers hit for a six!

CLASSY SHOW: Delhi Capitals' Shreyas Iyer cuts one to the boundary during his match-winning 67 against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

During the post-toss conversation, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s skipper Virat Kohli said, “The line-up is the same. The order is going to be the same.” He wasn’t envisaging the same result though!

The Bangalore side crashed to their sixth consecutive loss, leaving them with an improbable task of winning all their remaining eight games to make the play-offs. Having managed a below-par total of 149/8, Royal Challengers saw Delhi Capitals reply with 152/6 in 18.5 overs for their third win of the season in six matches here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

While the total was always going to be difficult to defend, the erratic bowlers and patchy fielding made it even easier for Delhi. RCB got off to a fine start when Navdeep Saini dismissed Shikhar Dhawan in the second over but before that in the opening over, wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel had dropped an easy catch off Shreyas Iyer when the batsman was on four. This miss cost them the match as the Delhi skipper went on to score 67 (50b, 8x4, 2x6) to tilt the balance in Delhi’s favour. This followed Prithvi Shaw’s assault on Tim Southee who was clobbered for five consecutive fours in the third over that gave the decisive momentum in a modest chase.

Delhi being Delhi did dramatise the chase by losing three wickets when they needed just six runs off 18 balls. But it wasn’t even artificial excitement as RCB’s fate had been sealed by then.

After being put into bat first, RCB were off to a stuttering start, accelerated between 12th and 17th overs and lost momentum in the last three overs to settle for a far less total than what they promised when Kohli and Moeen Ali and then when Kohli and Akshdeep Nath were batting. Opener Parthiv Patel and one-drop AB de Villiers were both out in the power play period after struggling to gain any pace against some clever fast bowling by the three-pronged DC pace attack on a pitch where the ball gripped a bit. Marcus Stoinis too found the stroke-making difficult and holed out to long on in one such attempt.

Having sized up the conditions, Kohli then concentrated on taking it deep into the innings. While he was happy to go at a strike rate of about 100, Ali took the mantle of accelerating the scoring. Having failed to come up with any knock of substance in four previous innings, the southpaw produced some lusty blows to get the near-capacity crowd on their feet. He added 37 runs in 23 balls -- his contribution being 32 off 18 (1x4, 3x6) -- for the fourth wicket that raised hopes of a total of around 160-170 with Kohli still in the middle.

Those hopes got further impetus when Kohli came out of his shell and struck two consecutive sixes off leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane in the 17th over, having gone 28 balls without a boundary after a first-ball four off Chris Morris. The 18th over, however, broke the back of their middle-order when Kagiso Rabada (4/21) dismissed three batsmen, including Kohli, to leave the hosts reeling at 138/7 from a relatively comfortable position of 133/4.

While over numbers 12-17 yielded 67 runs, only nine runs came off the last three for the loss of four wickets as RCB’s familiar woes continued.