Stokes, Thakur help RPS defend modest total against RCB

Royal Challengers Bangalore came undone on a slow M. Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch on Sunday, and slipped to a fourth loss in five IPL matches played so far.

Ben Stokes picked up two crucial wickets of Virat Kohli and Shane Watson.   -  PTI

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) came undone on a slow M. Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch here on Sunday, and slipped to a fourth loss in five IPL matches played so far.

Full Scorecard

Set a target of 162 by Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), RCB fell short by 27 runs. The playing surface, where sides regularly posted scores in the region of 200 not too long ago, produced a third consecutive sub-165 affair.

Captain Virat Kohli sparkled early in the chase, but his 19-ball 28 was not nearly enough. Fellow star A.B. de Villiers (29 off 30 balls) flattered to deceive too.

Kohli set the heart racing when he flicked the third ball of the RCB essay, off left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, over the deep square-leg boundary. In the next over, the home fans were further encouraged when Manoj Tiwary dropped a sitter at first slip. It seemed like Kohli was destined to get a big one.

Ben Stokes had other ideas though. The English seamer dropped one short, and Kohli attempted to slap it back over the bowler. A thick outside edge, however, ballooned to Ajinkya Rahane at sweeper point.

A short while later, de Villiers fell to a smart piece of glove-work from M.S. Dhoni. The South African batsman dragged his feet out of the crease after missing an Imran Tahir delivery, and Dhoni took the bails out in a jiffy.

From here, RCB needed 92 off 58 balls — a peak too high to scale.

Earlier, after being put in to bat, RPS got out of jail thanks to a late quickfire 11-ball 27 from Tiwary. His team had suffered a huge scare, when five wickets fell for the addition of just three runs. From 127 for two, RPS found itself in danger of being bowled out for a cheap score at 130 for seven.

A shoddy 19th over from Shane Watson allowed Tiwary to arrest the slide. Watson’s first delivery, a full toss outside off, was put away easily to the point fence. The Australian then sent down three over-pitched balls, which Tiwary dispatched for two fours and a six.

With 19 crucial runs gained in the over, RPS was able to put up a competitive 161 for eight in its 20 overs.

Before the slide, the RPS top-order held sway. Openers Rahane and Rahul Tripathi added 63 in 7.4 overs, before Steven Smith and Dhoni took over.

The packed house discarded team loyalty for an old personal favourite, and cheered Dhoni’s every move. In the 14th over, the charismatic cricketer evoked thunderous applause when he blasted leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal onto the roof of the stadium.

Dhoni (28 off 25b) registered his highest score of the tournament so far, while Smith made a sedate 24-ball 27.

RPS went on to record the highest team score at this venue this season, and it was enough for the visitor to notch up a second victory in five matches.