What a match! Unbelievable action on the ground. KXIP and RCB have delivered one of the greatest matches ever played in IPL. Advantage shifted like a see-saw, as it changed teams every other over. Both the teams came out with some brilliant performances. It was presented as a match between RCB’s Batting versus the KXIP’s Bowling. Both the teams are facing contrasting situations this year. Bangalore batsmen are consistently scoring more than 170 runs every innings they play but their bowling fails to deliver almost every time while the Punjab bowlers have done exceedingly well to restrict their opponents to manageable proportions but the batsmen have let them down.
Punjab won the toss and elected to field. RCB once again left Gayle out to incorporate an overseas bowler.
Virat Kohli opened the innings with KL Rahul. They had a role reversal of sorts today as Rahul went berserk after the bowling while Kohli was watchful. The opening pair added 61 runs in the powerplay before getting out in the same over to Punjab spinner KC Cariappa leaving RCB at 64 for 2 in 8 overs. All eyes were on the batting pair of AB De Villiers and Shane Watson to carry RCB out of this situation but catastrophe struck as Watson was bowled by Axar Patel in the very next over. RCB was in shambles after losing 3 wickets in a space of 8 balls. Bangalore has been well served by Kohli in every match till now but his failure today seemed to panic the RCB. But the superman AB De Villiers was still at the crease and was carrying all the expectations of RCB fans to pull his team out of this muddle. AB along with the new man Sachin Baby started cautiously to rebuild the innings. They played sedately for about 5 overs to ensure safety when suddenly AB blasted. He brought out all his trademark shots to stun the Punjab bowlers into submission.
He hit Yorkers over the covers for six, paddled Yorkers over fine leg for six, pulled, hooked and drove everything into the boundaries.
Devilliers unfortunately got out in the 18th over but not before pummeling 64 runs off just 35 balls. At one point Devilliers was batting on 25 off 21 balls as the next 40 runs came off just 13 balls before he got out. It was his innings that pushed the RCB score to 175 in 20 overs. A score which looked impossible about 6 overs back.
Punjab had their work cut out in chasing 176, given the form of their batsmen but Caption and opener Murli Vijay came out possessed to get the total. He along with Hashim Amla scored briskly until Amla was dismissed for 21 in the 6th over with the team total on 45 runs. New man Wridhiman Saha supported Vijay ably as he went about his business scoring boundaries at will. Punjab was well on course of victory, placed at 88 for 1 in the 11th over when Saha and Miller walked back off consecutive deliveries of Leggie Yazurvendra Chahal to leave their side tottering at 88 for 3. Man of the match from their last game, Marcus Stoinis joined Vijay in the middle to start the chase once again. Stoinis was struggling to find his rhythm while Vijay was sending ball after ball packing to the boundary. The required rate was maintained around 10 and looked quite getable as Vijay looked well set to take his team home single handedly. But the bowler of the day for RCB, Shane Watson had other plans. Before he came on to bowl the 17th over, he had figures 1 for 12 in 2 overs.
With 40 required off last 4overs, Watson changed the match on its head by ending Murli Vijay’s heroic innings of 89 runs off just 57 balls and giving away just 3 runs in the over.
Marcus Stoinis came up with timely boundaries to keep Punjab interested but once again it was Watson who bent the match in RCB’s favor. With 24 required off the last 2 overs, Watson gave away just 7 in the 19th over to leave a good 17 runs for the last over. Chris Jordan bowled an unsteady last over to give a boundary and six to Stoinis breaking the equation down to 4 required off the last ball. Jordan bowled another full toss but Stoinis failed to connect, getting just 2 runs and handing over the match to a jubilant RCB by just 1 run.
The result was in the favor of RCB but both the teams will take a lot of positives from this match. The non performing departments for both the teams worked out well here and will give a lot of confidence to both the teams going forward into the business end of the tournament. Punjab do not have a realistic chance to make the playoffs now but they certainly can spoil the party for many. They would want to finish on a high while the RCB have everything to play for.