On this day in 2016 - RCB beat KXIP in a nail-biter
Having only three wins from the first eight games of the 2016 season, Royal Challengers Bangalore needed to treat almost every remaining fixture as a virtual knockout. A win against the Rising Pune Supergiants in their previous game in a high-intensity run-chase, led by captain Virat Kohli would have given the team a bit of a confidence boost. The team had travelled up North for their next assignment, Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali.
Put in to bat, the Royal Challengers’ opening pair of Kohli and KL Rahul looked in supreme control from the very beginning. Two beautiful cricket shots which breached the boundary ropes in the first over of the game was a warning sign of the kind of form the Bangalore openers were in. The powerplay ended with a profitable 56 runs without the loss of a wicket, which also included a 20-run skyscraper off Marcus Stoinis in the fourth over.
Just when it looked like the Virat-Rahul duo was set for the long haul and were about to take off, Cariappa applied the brakes. First Rahul and then Kohli two balls later were back in the hut. Shane Watson missed a straight delivery from Axar Patel in the very next over and a terrific start to the innings had been thrown away; the scoreboard now reading 67/3 in the ninth over.
RCB badly needed a partnership and reconstruct the innings and the task now fell in the hands of AB de Villiers and Sachin Baby. The fourth-wicket stand began slowly, going at less than a run-a-ball for the first 20 balls. They put the odd bad delivery away to the boundary once they had their eye in. The duo had put the innings back on track, now the team going at just over 7.5 an over with five overs to go and no more damage done to the wickets column.
Watson delivered two masterly overs at the death, in which he gave away only 10 runs
AB de Villiers now decided to open up with a quarter of the overs left. He got down low and swept Sandeep Sharma away over square leg for a maximum and a swat over extra covers for a boundary signaled that de Villiers was now well-set. Such is the genius of AB de Villiers that, despite the slow start to his innings, he brought up his half-century off only 30 deliveries with a sweep shot off Axar Patel for four. The Protean maestro eventually fell for 64 off 35 balls, slicing one to point uppishly. His dismissal with two overs still left to go, would have knocked off a few extra runs from the RCB total. RCB had put on 175 on the board; not a guaranteed winnings score, but a total that could be defended.
Murali Vijay and Hashim Amla got Punjab off to a quick start in their pursuit of 176. Punjab were going at over 8.5 an over after the first five overs and RCB needed to break the opening stand. Virat Kohli turned to Shane Watson, and the Aussie invariably delivered. A mistimed pull by Amla found Stuart Binny at mid-wicket and Watson had given RCB a breather. Punjab were not deterred by the fall of Amla, however, as Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha motored on. The duo ensured that the required rate never escalated, and after ten overs Punjab had reached 83/1.
Punjab looked on course for a perfect run-chase. Yuzvendra Chahal, bowling the eleventh over, turned the game on its head. First, a missed stumping by KL Rahul, which through presence of mind he turned into a run-out saw the back of Saha. A slider off the next ball beat David Miller’s outside edge and Rahul quickly took off the bails. The dangerous Miller was gone for a golden duck and RCB were back in the game.
Murali Vijay, however, kept the innings together and resurrected the run-chase through a partnership with Marcus Stoinis. Punjab required only 40 runs off the last 4, a very achievable target in the T20 era. RCB needed someone to stand up and bowl a tight over. Watson was the answer. The Aussie all-rounder brought all his years of experience into play, delivering an over which cost only 3 runs. Watson made use of the long square boundaries, and Vijay and Stoinis found it hard to find score quick runs. Vijay failed in his attempt to clear the deep square-leg and was dismissed off the last ball of the over for 89, also bringing to end the 51-run stand.
The following over bowled by Chris Jordon, however, gave away 13 runs. With Punjab needing 24 off the last two, Watson delivered the perfect penultimate over. Despite a boundary coming off the third ball, the rest of the over went for only 3 runs. Punjab were left needing 17 off the final six balls. RCB hearts sank when ten runs came off the second and third ball of the last over, leaving only 6 runs for Punjab to win off the last 3. A slower delivery missed by Stoinis resulted in a dot ball. Marcus Stojnis could only manage two braces off two full tosses off the final two balls, and RCB had hung on by one run. Shane Watson was declared the player of the match for his crucial overs at the death and his key breakthroughs of Amla and Vijay. RCB had notched up consecutive wins for the first time in the season.