Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers held their nerves and took wickets in a heap at the death overs to help the team beat Rising Pune Supergiants by 13 runs and registered their second win of the Indian Premier League season nine at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Friday.
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Chasing 186-run target, MS Dhoni-led Pune team finished on 172/8 in 20 overs after Thisara Perera and Rajat Bhatia took them close in the end. From needing 50 off the last three overs, the duo scored 25 runs in the 18th over to raise their hopes as they needed 25 more in the final two overs. But they lost four wickets for 11 runs to suffer their third defeat in four games.
The run chase which required some application from Pune, got off to a shaky start, losing Kane Williamson cheaply. Steven Smith was run out in the third over after some chaotic moments in the middle. First Patel’s leg before appeal was turned down by the umpire, then Smith tried to steal a single but slipped and Kohli took advantage of it and hit the stumps with a diving throw to catch the Australian short. Pune was stranded on 18/2 in 2.3 overs. A well compiled 50 from 37 balls from Ajinkya Rahane, then showed some hope but was in vain. A well composed 91 partnership with Captain Dhoni did nothing great in uping the ante, excepting the late flurry of boundaries by Perera.
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Earlier, Kohli and De Villiers put on 155 runs for the second wicket to take the total to a massive 185/3. De Villiers was the aggressor of the day as he raced to his 18th IPL fifty off just 25 balls, whereas Kohli took uncharacteristically 47 balls for his 22nd half-century of the league – his fifth in last six T20 innings. The South African scored an impressive 83 off just 46 balls, which included four big sixes and six boundaries, and Kohli accelerated in the end to post 80 in 63 balls, hitting two sixes and seven fours.
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Perera was the only successful bowler for the hosts team, taking all the three wickets fell in the innings which included the scalps of Kohli and De Villiers in successive balls in the last over of the innings. He finished with figures of three for 34 in his quota of four overs.
After sent in to bat, the visitors started watchfully reaching 22 for no loss after first three overs. Kohli then began the next over, bowled by Perera, with a four through the covers but the Sri Lankan bounced back to dismiss Lokesh Rahul, who was struggling in the middle, three balls later as the opener gave away an easy catch to Ishant Sharma at third man.
RCB were 27/1 when they lost Rahul, after that it was all De Villiers and skipper Kohli as they scored runs at will and took the team to 79/1 after ten overs. Dhoni brought in new sensation Murugan Ashwin in the eleventh over, but De Villiers welcomed the youngster with two big sixes as the spinner conceded 18 in his first over of the day.
Pune got a golden opportunity to break the partnership but failed as Ankit Sharma dropped Kohli’s top-edge, who was at 51, at mid-off off Ravi Ashwin. RCB scored 41 runs in the final three overs as Kohli changed the gear at the death. De Villiers-Kohli duo compiled 13 runs in the 18th off Perera, followed by 16 off Ishant who finished the miserable day with 0/47 in four overs. Perera then took two wickets in the final over to check the charge a little bit.