RCB comes out unscathed in run fest

Virat Kohli's men stuttered and stumbled in their defence of 218, but hung on to snatch a 14-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad.

RCB players celebrate after winning the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bengaluru on Thursday.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Royal Challengers Bangalore's hopes of advancing to the IPL play-offs are alive yet.

Virat Kohli's men stuttered and stumbled in their defence of 218, but hung on to snatch a 14-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad at an atmospheric M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday. Kane Williamson's 42-ball-81 – an innings of the highest quality – and his partnership with Manish Pandey took Sunrisers within striking distance of the target before the home side clawed its way back. RCB will now face Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday, hoping victory will be enough to go through.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

 

Mohammed Siraj removed Williamson of the first ball of the final over, when 20 runs were still needed, and the stadium exploded in relief.

A little earlier, when de Villiers took an outrageous catch on the boundary to dismiss Alex Hales – leaping in the air to grab the ball one-handed before expertly landing inside the rope – in the eighth over, the required rate had almost risen to 13 an over. But Williamson and Pandey did not ease up, adding 135 in 67 balls.  As the runs flowed, the Kiwi unfurling shot after delightful shot, RCB worried. But Kohli would have the last laugh.

Catch masters - Boult then, Rashid and AB now

The RCB captain would have preferred to chase, but having been asked to bat after losing the toss, his side approached the task as if no total was going to be safe. At the heart of the effort was a break-neck 107-run stand (57b) for the third wicket, between de Villiers and Moeen Ali.

The pair was united at the crease after Kohli had been bowled trying to slog-sweep Rashid Khan, one ball after having pulled him for four. It might have been wiser for the RCB skipper to treat the leg-spinner with some caution.

 

de Villiers got down to business at once, sending the first two balls he faced to the fence. It seemed like one of those days when the South African could do no wrong. Anything wide was cut, anything short pulled without mercy. He had to wait 35 balls for his first (and only) six, but it was a 105-metre monster, a full toss from Basil Thampi that he got under and sent soaring out of the stadium.

Ali was dealing largely in sixes, without a hint of violence about any of those shots. The Englishman raised his maiden IPL fifty off 25 balls, striking six sixes in all.

SRH chose to rest Bhuvneshwar Kumar, fielding Thampi instead. The Kerala bowler endured a chastening evening, conceding 70 off his four overs, the most expensive spell in IPL history.

 

de Villiers and Ali both fell in the space of three balls to the excellent Rashid Khan but the carnage did not end there. SRH had only five full-time bowlers to call on, and as Colin de Grandhomme cut loose, there was little Kane Williamson could do.

The most SRH had conceded this season going into this game had been 193; that figure was easily surpassed on this occasion, with 134 runs hammered off the final 10 overs.

Qualification scenario

Royal Challengers Bangalore needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, and it did so to be in contention alongside four other teams for one of two spots up for grabs. Its net run-rate ahead of Thursday's contest was +0.218, which has improved to +0.264 following the 14-run win.

 

What it needs to do: The team is now on 12 points from 13 matches, a scenario similar to three other competitors — Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. As it is certain the cut-off mark will be 14 points for a place in the playoffs, RCB has to win its last league game, against Rajasthan Royals, and then hope either MI or Kolkata Knight Riders (currently on 14 points) falters. If RCB defeats RR, and MI and KKR win their respective matches, the last playoff spot will be decided on NRR, making it likely for MI to clinch it owing to its superior NRR (currently +0.384). In this scenario, however, RCB can still make it if it improves its NRR to go above MI. If it loses against RR, it is out of the race.

 

Sunrisers Hyderabad has qualified for the playoffs and a loss doesn't mean anything significant for the side. It still holds the top spot in the points table.