RCB stay in hunt with big win

RCB stay in hunt with big win

Royal Challengers Bangalore are scripting an engaging story of revival. After a series of lifeless performances, they are waging a dogged fight to last in 2018 Indian Premier League. In the process, they produced their finest performance of the season where they crushed Kings XI Punjab 10 wickets at the Holkar stadium here on Monday.

The victory has pushed them to 10 points and kept their chances of play-offs qualification going. Though they remain seventh in the points table, their net run-rate has changed from a negative 0.26 to a positive 0.21. They now leave for home encounter against Sunrisers Hyderabad (May 17) before flying out to Jaipur for their last league game (May 19), and will be hoping to keep the momentum going. Meanwhile, Punjab stayed on 12 points but still remain in the race for qualification. Little went their way on Monday.

Preferring to chase, RCB was stellar with their bowling and fielding, which resulted in three run outs. They rolled Punjab, which lost wickets in heaps, for mere 88 runs in 15.1 overs to give themselves a good shot at victory. And they surely had the shot with ease by finishing the modest run-chase in 8.1 overs. Umesh Yadav was the pick of RCB bowlers with the figures of 3/23.

Captain Virat Kohli (48 n.o. off 28 balls), not willing to waste the opportunity, chose to seize control by opening the innings with Parthiv Patel (40 n.o. off 20 balls) and the two ensured they saw the innings through. They got cracking from the start and capitalised on the low confidence of Punjab, who were terrible on the field. In fact, Kohli was dropped by Aaron Finch when on 19, and he only grew stronger from there. The power play itself produced 66 runs with Kohli giving the final touches to the chase with a boundary.

Earlier, RCB were off to a flying start with Umesh and Mohammad Siraj making excellent use of the bounce on the pitch. Umesh persistently kept the length short and used the bounce on offer to pack off the dangerous opening pair of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle in the same over.

Rahul, who gave a peek into his splendid form by tonking three sixes in his brief innings, holed out at deep square leg. Gayle had taken seven deliveries to open his account. A mistimed pull brought his premature end just when he had begun to look threatening. Siraj then removed Karun Nair who edged his short of length delivery to Kohli at slip and the hosts finished the powerplay at 47/3.

It was then the turn of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, introduced in the seventh over, to join the party. Marcus Stoinis, stepping in for injured Mujeeb ur Rahman, found his bails swinging in the air, and Punjab had dug themselves into a deep hole. Mayank Agarwal, coming at no. 6, continued to struggle, and by the time Finch was caught at deep mid-wicket, the crowd at the adopted home of Punjab, was cheering with abandon for the RCB. Captain Ashwin’s bizarre run out for a golden duck rounded off their abject surrender to RCB’s dominant charge.