AB delivers crucial away win for RCB
Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Pune Warriors India by 17 runs in their IPL 6 match at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune on Thursday night to seal their first away win of the season.
Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat first. Muttiah Muralitharan replaced Ravi Rampaul in the side while KL Rahul came in for Jaydev Unadkat. Another change Kohli made was sending in Saurabh Tiwary to open the batting with Chris Gayle.
Pune played on the West Indian’s initial apprehension against slow bowling, bringing in Ajantha Mendis and T Suman (1/15) to bowl early in the game. The move worked when Gayle (21 21b 2x4 1x6) got the timing on a shot wrong in the 7th over and was out right after he had hit a six off Suman.
Tiwary had been more tentative at the other end but took Gayle’s dismissal as a sign to get going and attacked Mendis successfully in the next over. Virat Kohli was all lighting footwork and firm drives at the other end, taking 3 boundaries off a Yuvraj over. Kohli and Tiwary added 63 quick runs for the 2nd wicket in just 6.3 overs before the RCB captain played all around a straight delivery from Ashok Dinda and was bowled for 25 (18b 3x4).
Saurabh Tiwary (52 45b 2x4 2x6) carried on, hitting a six off Rahul Sharma en route his first fifty for RCB before a mistimed scoop off Dinda saw him being caught at short fine leg.
AB de Villiers had his eye in by that time and he took off, finishing Dinda’s overs with a couple of fours. Moises Henriques (27* 13b 4x4 1x6) was fortunate and edged two fours off Rahul Sharma before slamming Dinda for consecutive boundaries in the 18th over. Aaron Finch got his allotments wrong and failed to bowl out Bhuvneshwar but the pacer conceded just 7 off the penultimate over to pull things back a little for Pune.
Dinda (1/52) got the AB treatment in the final over, improvisations, fleet footwork and strong forearms combining to smash him all over the park. AB slogged, swept and reverse swept to hit two sixes and three fours in the over, taking 26 off it. He reached 50 off the last ball of the innings, getting to the milestone off just 23 deliveries as RCB posted a huge 187/3 in their 20 overs.
Finch came out attacking and soon missed a slog to be bowled by Moises Henriques (1/44). T Suman was the one to go, run out when he tried to take on Muralitharan’s arm. Yuvraj Singh (16 11b 2x6) and Robin Uthappa added 31 off just 19b in a blazing 3rd wicket partnership before Vinay Kumar struck in the 11th over. Yuvraj Singh’s pull off a short delivery landed in AB de Villiers’s hands at long on, Steve Smith’s charge at another short ball in the same over took the edge and was pouched by Arun Karthik to leave Pune at 82/4 after 11 overs.
The heat was still not over. Angelo Mathews who had just given up Pune’s captaincy hours earlier produced sublime hitting with Uthappa to put RCB to the sword. Vinay Kumar, Kartik Murali, RP Singh and Muttiah Muralitharan were all dispatched disdainfully for boundaries as the duo racked up 63 runs for the 5th wicket off just 33 deliveries, their partnership featuring six sixes and one four.
Gayle then brought RCB right back in the game, taking a superb catch at point to end Mathews’ rampage on 32 (19b 3x6) off Vinay’s (3/31) bowling in the 17th over. Robin Uthappa kept going strong, hitting a six in the same over to still keep Pune in the game.
The 18th over from Kartik Murali (2/29) was decisive. AB de Villiers took a wonderful catch at long on to intercept a low slog from Abhishek Nayar off the second ball. The fifth ball hooked the big fish, Robin Uthappa didn’t account for the turn and the attempted slog ballooned up before landing in RP Singh’s hands at backward point. He made a superb 75 (45b 5x4 5x6), his first fifty of the season for Pune.
Pune needed 45 runs with 6 wickets left after the 16th over. After the 18th over they still needed 28 but with only 3 wickets left and their set batsmen gone. RP Singh (1/27) finished things off with a tight penultimate over, giving away just 4 runs and sending back Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
With 24 runs to defend, Chris Gayle (1/5) came on to bowl the last over. He delivered all the entertainment expected of him along with tight offspin, trapping Ajantha Mendis LBW as Pune finished on 170/9.
AB de Villiers had taken 26 runs off that last over from Dinda so it was only fair that the smashing Saffer was named the Man of the Match after RCB’s 17 run margin of victory.