Royal Challengers Bangalore picked up their third straight win in Indian Premier League 2019 as they defeated Kings XI Punjab by 17 runs. Being asked to bat first, the hosts posted a mammoth target of 203 for KXIP to chase. In reply, Punjab could only score 184/7 in 20 overs, and suffered their second straight defeat.
Kings XI Punjab won the toss and elected to field. The R Ashwin-led side made two changes with Nicholas Pooran and Ankit Rajpoot coming in for Sam Curran and Harpreet Brar. Bangalore also made two changes with Dale Steyn and Pawan Negi sitting out for Washington Sundar and Tim Southee.
AB de Villiers’ scintillating half century and a 121-run stand with Marcus Stoinis propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to 202 for four against Kings XI Punjab in a must-win Indian Premier League match. Sent into bat, De Villiers scored a brilliant unbeaten 82 off 44 balls with three fours and seven sixes, while Stoinis hammered 46 off 34 balls with two fours and three sixes.
In the last two overs, both Stonis and De Villiers hammered 45 runs off Mohammad Shami and Hardus Viljoen. After reaching his 50 off 35 balls, De Villiers, smashed Shami for three sixes, plundering 18 runs in the penultimate over. In the last over, both Stoinis and De Villiers hammered 27 runs off Viljoen, which helped the hosts to race past 200 runs mark.
Navdeep Saini’s fabulous penultimate over kept Royal Challengers Bangalore afloat as they beat Kings XI Punjab by 17 runs. AB de Villiers’ unbeaten 82 off 44 balls took RCB to a healthy 202 for 4 and things could have gone awry with young Nicholas Pooran (46 off 28 balls) hitting five sixes at the rear before Saini sealed it in the 19th over. Kings XI Punjab finished at 185 for 7 as RCB are now on eight points with three games left.
Needing 30 off the last two, Saini (2/33), who is one of India’s fastest bowlers produced a hostile over in which he removed the dangerous David Miller and Pooran but more importantly gave away only three runs. Saini bowled fast and into the body of the batsmen, who couldn’t really get going and his aggression became the defining factor in the end. Defending 27 runs off the final over, Umesh Yadav (3/33) was better than the other night against CSK as he got a couple of wickets. With four wins in the last five games, RCB will hope to win the remaining three and expect a few favourable result to make it to the play-offs as rank outsiders.
The game-changing moment in the match was the 19th over during Punjab’s run chase. Umesh Yadav had given just six runs in the previous over, and KXIP needed 30 runs to win in the final two overs. Skipper Virat Kohli handed the ball to Navdeep Saini with David Miller and Nicholas Pooran in the middle, who had added 68 runs in 48 balls. The two batsmen had the potential to win this one for their side.
But Saini, in his first ball of the over, got rid of the Proteas batsman. Miller hit it straight at long-on to AB de Villiers. The fast bowler, then, did not give away too many runs in his over, which saw pressure increasing on Pooran. The Windies batsman decided to go for a six in the final ball m but was caught by de Villiers, in the deep. In the final over, Punjab had to score 27 runs with two new batsmen in the crease, which was always going to be a difficult task.
R Ashwin: “There can be so many places where we feel we lost the game. But at the end of the day, a T20 game is all about pressure moments and we haven’t been able to do that in the last few games. If we had more experience in the middle order, we could have done something. We are right into it [playoffs] It’s all about getting one win and we’ll get on a roll. Like RCB. It’s important to keep trust in the players. We’ve held on to the same batting order through the tournament. Giving players a chance. It’s really important to back the players. We were always in the game. We haven’t been outplayed by any opposition. The one area we need to work on is Powerplay bowling and the death others. It’s time the bowlers stood up there.”
Virat Kohli: “Yeah, we’ve won four of the five. Could have been five out of five. We were just looking to enjoy the cricket and tonight was a great example of having fun. The game changing partnership was Marcus and AB. They brought us to 200 which looked highly unlikely. We thought 175 would have been good. The only focus was to play well as a team. Losing six in a row really hurt us. Literally no one in the team has been part of such a streak. So we just refreshed, thought about just enjoying ourselves and the important thing now is not to take on any pressure. We know how we play. The world knows how we play. [Extra spinners] Especially with the two left-handers they had. Moeen and Washi bowled really well and having six-seven bowling options really help. Also Marcus as the allrounder gives a lot of flexibility.”
Scorecard: Royal Challengers Bangalore (de Villiers 82*, Stoinis 46*; R Ashwin 1/15) Kings XI Punjab (Pooran 46, Rahul 42; )
(With inputs from PTI)