Royal Challengers Bangalore sneaked to a 13-run victory, the second win in four matches so far, dousing a late Rising Pune Supergiants fightback at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium here on Friday. Chasing 185 under the lights on a track where A B de Villiers’ timing and range of strokes, complimented by Virat Kohli s responsible knock, set the tone for brilliant batting, the home team’s spirited response ended at 172-8 in 20 overs.
M. S. Dhoni strode into the battle in the third over, having watched counterpart Kohli run out Steven Smith with a direct hit from point. Kevin Pietersen limped off due to cramp and Faf du Plessis was dismissed cheaply. RPS was 167 behind at this stage, 17 overs in hand. Ajinkya Rahane kept the flame flickering with a mix of delicate shots and effective slogging in a 46-ball 60. After Rahane was dismissed, caught out of his crease by keeper' K. L. Rahul, Thisara Perera sparked excitement with a ferocious 34 off 13 balls at number six, but it was too late by then.
RPS held its nerve earlier in the game, in the face of aggressive batting from two most feared strokemakers in Twenty20 version. A B de Villiers (83 off 46 balls, 6x4, 4x6) teamed up with Virat Kohli (80 off 33 balls, 7x4, 2x6) to set up a decent total for Royal Challengers Bangalore, 185-3 in 20 overs.
Perera (3-34) brought his experience into play, supported by medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia and off-spinenr R Ashwin who both gave away just 22 in three overs. Dhoni opted to field after calling right at the toss, read the wicket rightly at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium and did not allow the situation to get out of hand.
Kohl, forced to bat after losing the toss, hoped to continue his fluent form having already registered scores of 75, 79 and 33 so far. He warmed up with a six over square leg in the third over. de Villiers was greeted with a roar walking out to bat in the fourth over. Left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma’s entry in the next over was a sign of challenges ahead for these two in-form strokemakers.
RCB racing to 48-1 in the Powerplay overs resulted in Dhoni turning to canny Bhatia to keep things in control, in tandem with the experienced Ashwin. Kohli, displaying soft hands and the angled bat against the slow bowlers, watched as de Villiers launched into the big shots and brought up his half-century in 25 balls.
Dhoni kept faith in spinners in the face of assault by the South African, by now in absolute command at the crease with Kohli quiet at the other end (50 off 47 balls). The second wicket pair put on 100 in 69 balls and the latter was lucky when a wild slog resulted in a looping catch, spilled by Ankit Sharma running towards mid-off.
Kohli’s frustration at mistimed shots in this phase soon gave way to free-spirited hitting, swinging across the line to clear long-on of pacer Perera. Dhoni’s response to a challenging situation was to continue with specialists in the attack. Ishant Sharma faced the heat in the 19th over, two fours by Kohli was followed by a mighty six over mid-wicket by de Villiers.
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