Victory at last for RCB

Victory at last for RCB

BIG BANG: A B de Villiers hammers one to the fence during his half-century in Mohali on Saturday. AFP

Royal Challengers Bangalore snapped their string of six successive defeats in the Indian Premier League this season, registering an eight-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab at the PCA stadium here on Saturday.

It required special efforts from captain Virat Kohli (67) and AB de Villiers (59 n.o) to ensure RCB log in their first points of the season. The visitors chased down Punjab’s 173/4 with four balls to spare, thanks to an 85-run partnership for the second wicket between Kohli and De Villiers.

RCB gained from a good effort from their spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2-33) and Moeen Ali (1-19) despite Punjab's opener Chris Gayle stroking an unbeaten 99 off 64 balls in slow conditions.

The visitors were quick to get off the blocks. Kohli batted with urgency, but Parthiv Patel departed in the fourth over. For the umpteenth time, it came down to Kohli and De Villiers to shoulder RCB home. The two stalwarts this time simply dug their heels in. They finished the power play at 63/1 and kept the score board ticking with customary proficiency. They were exemplary in their running between the wickets and finding the gaps in the big ground.

By the 15th over, RCB were in complete control, needing 48, with Kohli taking charge and De Villiers keeping things simple and steady at the other end.

Kohli, who had raised his half century off 37 balls, lost his composure in the 16th over when on 67, pulling a Mohammad Shami delivery straight to deep mid-wicket. Marcus Stoinis, dropped on 14 by M Ashwin, joined forces with De Villiers and carried the beleaguered side across the finishing line for the first time this season.

Punjab made a scintillating start to their innings. Gayle was lucky to get a let off when RCB chose not to review an lbw appeal against him in the opening over off Umesh Yadav. It proved to be a costly miss. By the third over, the Jamaican had opened his shoulders and with KL Rahul in fluent touch, the two sprinted through the powerplay for 60 runs.

Chahal, introduced in the seventh over, checked the scoring. He beat Rahul with his flight and dip to get him stumped. Chahal then returned to stun Mayank Agarwal with a peach of a delivery which hit the top of the off-stump.

Chahal got good back-up support from off-spinner Ali, and the two worked their way towards arresting the flow of runs, and drying up the boundaries. More importantly, they managed to keep Gayle on a leash. The Jamaican, who had raised his half-century off a mere 28 balls, was forced to curb his aggression in the middle overs when the hosts lost Sarfaraz Khan and Curran in quick succession.

Saddled with the task of carrying his team through, Gayle performed it to perfection. Fortune once again smiled on him when he was dropped by a diving Kohli at 83 at long-on. Mandeep Singh hung around with him to stitch 60 runs for the unbeaten fifth wicket.

Gayle finished the Punjab innings with a boundary, but missed out on his seventh IPL century. On any other day, it would have had a devastating impact on the opposition. But Saturday was not one of them. RCB found a way to stay afloat and, for the moment, can savour the sweet taste of victory.