Umesh, de Villiers carry RCB past Kings XI
Royal Challengers Bangalore 159 for 6 (De Villiers 57, de Kock 45, Ashwin 2-30) beat Kings XI Punjab 155 (Rahul 47, Umesh 3-23, Sundar 2-22) by four wickets. Royal Challengers Bangalore collected two points against Kings XI Punjab, extending the streak of chasing teams winning full-length matches at IPL 2018. Umesh Yadav’s three wickets in one over set the game up for the hosts early on, after which the South African duo of Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers overcame a slight hiccup to take them to a relatively comfortable four-wicket win. The win meant RCB had arrested a five-match losing streak at the Chinnaswamy from 2017. At one point, it didn’t look easy for RCB, especially after they lost both Brendon McCullum and the captain Virat Kohli inside the Powerplay. But the 54-run partnership between de Kock and de Villiers did enough to take the pressure off the chase. In the first innings, Kings XI made 155; they should’ve made more after a blazing start courtesy KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. At the end of the match, the losing captain R Ashwin confessed that Kings XI were “20 runs short”, and that – one could say – was the eventual difference between the two sides.
This may have been an away game for Kings XI, but two local boys walked out to open. For KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, the Chinnaswamy is where they ply their trade during the domestic season, and the duo wasted no time in making full use of the familiar surroundings. Rahul, fresh off his 14-ball fifty against Delhi Daredevils, started exactly where he left off on Sunday. After seeing off the game’s first two balls, he creamed consecutive sixes and then a boundary to take 16 off the first six balls. Next over, Agarwal showed no mercy to Umesh Yadav either, walloping him for two boundaries.
At 32 for no loss after three overs, King XI were looking at another excellent Powerplay but Umesh had other plans for his second over. The first ball, a tempting full-pitched delivery, was edged by Agarwal to the keeper de Kock diving to his right. Aaron Finch, playing his first game after his wedding, lasted one ball as Umesh trapped him in front first up. Then Yuvraj Singh fell off the over’s final delivery. He looked tentative, managing to defend the hat-trick ball and then almost holing out to deep backward square, but Umesh got his man soon after. Coming around the wicket for the fourth over’s final ball, he fired one in and Yuvraj was too slow to get in position. The end result: Yuvraj’s middle stump on the floor and Kings XI at 36 for 3 after four overs.
Karun Nair was tasked with rehabilitating the Kings XI’s innings and together with KL Rahul found the occasional boundary while knocking the ball into the gaps and rotating the strike. With Kings XI at 84 for 3 at the halfway stage and still needing a lot more on a batting-friendly surface, Rahul looked to change gears once again but perished trying to accelerate. He fell to Washington Sundar, who started his spell after the Powerplay for only the second time in the IPL. Rahul’s slog sweep found short third man and, with that dismissal, the Kings XI batting began to unravel once more. Nair fell for a 26-ball 29 next over and Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel and Andrew Tye didn’t last long either. Captain R Ashwin (21-ball 33) played a mature innings, though, to push the visitors past 150. He hit three fours and a flat-batted six off Yuzvendra Chahal in the 19th over, but fell next ball looking for another big hit. Kings XI were eventually dismissed for 155, but Ashwin’s cameo ensured their bowlers had something to bowl at.
The target of 156 was always gettable on this surface, but a poor start with the bat did not help RCB’s cause. McCullum fell slashing the chase’s second ball to backward point, after which a wrong ‘un from Mujeeb Zadran hit Kohli’s middle stump. With RCB at 33 for 2, the game could’ve swung either way, but the South Africans saw the Powerplay off with no further damage. A careful batting approach often corresponds to a bloating required run-rate, and just as RCB looked to have fallen off the pace de Kock and de Villiers hit back. Both batsmen enjoyed the extra pace that Mohit Sharma offered, and smashed 16 runs – including a six and two fours – off the eighth over. With the pressure dropping off, de Kock freed his arms further, clearing the long-on boundary off a R Ashwin dolly and then smacking two more boundaries off the Kings XI captain and Axar Patel to give RCB’s innings a push.
Ashwin eventually won the battle against de Kock and so, when he was bowled in the 12th over, it needed a composed show from de Villiers. With 69 runs still to win and 54 balls remaining, de Villiers took his time and chipped away at the target before going after Mujeeb (19 runs came in one over when 41 were required off 24) to bring the equation under control. He fell in the 19th over, holing out to deep point off Andrew Tye, but Washington Sundar’s two boundaries off the last over ensured RCB managed to draw curtains on the horrid run endured last season. Mohit Sharma was expensive for the visitors, conceding 45 in 3.3 overs. In contrast, the other Kings XI bowlers went at 7.50 or less per over.