AB de Villiers struck a fluent half century as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Kings XI Punjab by four wickets to bring up their first win of the Indian Premier League at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
De Villiers (57 off 40 balls) played anchor after the early departure of captain Virat Kohli (21), before he decided to take on the bowlers towards the end for some lusty blows. Despite a late hiccup, Bangalore chased down their target of 156 with three balls to spare.
This was after the Bangalore bowlers, led by pacer Umesh Yafav – who took three wickets in an over – had shot out Punjab for 155 after Kohli opted to field first. De Villiers hit two fours and four sixes in his knock. He was out in the 18th over but had taken the match to the threshold of victory.
Mandeep Singh contributed with 22 down the order while Washington Sundar (9*) hit the winning runs as Bangalore reached 159/6 in 19.3 overs.
Bangalore’s run chase did not have the best of starts as Brendon McCullum got out in the second ball of the innings for a golden duck. Kohli was looking good in the company of Quinton de Kock (45), rotating the strike and getting the occasional boundaries till he was bowled by a beauty of a delivery by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, which went through the gate.
The 17-year-old Afghan off-spinner bowled a googly from the back of the hand to deceive the India captain and got the prized wicket. It pitched outside off and zipped back in sharply, which Kohli tried to drive but missed it completely, only to see his stumps rattled.
De Villiers came in, and in company of compatriot De Kock, steadied the Bangalore innings. The South African duo stitched 54 runs for the third wicket before Punjab captain Ashwin (2/30) took two wickets – that of de Kock and Sarfaraz Khan (0) – in successive deliveries to keep his side in the hunt for a victory.
The home side reached 109 for 4 at the end of 15 overs, needing 47 from the final five over. The 17th over bowled by Mujeeb Ur Rahman turned out to be the game-changer as de Villiers hit two consecutive sixes out of 19 runs from that over.
Wickets at regular intervals
Earlier, Umesh rocked the KXIP innings with a three-wicket burst in an over as RCB bowled out the visitors for 155. Put into bat, KXIP were reduced to 36 for 3 in the fourth over after Umesh (3/23) dismissed Mayank Agarwal (15), Aaron Finch (0) and Yuvraj Singh (4) in the space of six balls in his second over to leave the visiting side in trouble early in their innings.
Agarwal edged the first ball of the fourth over to wicketkeeper De Kock before Australian Finch was trapped leg-before the next delivery. Yuvraj was out in the final ball of that over as it went through his gate to knock off the middle stump.
Umesh’s pace colleague Kulwant Khejroliya and Chris Woakes and off-spinner Washington Sundar then took over in the later part of the Punjab innings with two wickets apiece.
For Punjab, only KL Rahul put up any sort of resistance as he hit 47 off just 30 balls at the top of the order, laced with two fours and four sixes. Captain Ravichandran Ashwin contributed 33 off 21 balls while Karun Nair made 29.
The Punjab innings, however, began with a bang with Rahul taking 16 runs from the opening over bowled by Woakes whom he hit for a four and two sixes. Rahul’s aggression kept the run rate high despite his side losing wickets at regular intervals; Punjab reached 84 for 3 at the halfway mark.
But just as the opener was settling down with Nair and nearing his half century, Rahul fell to Sundar as he top-edged while trying for a slog-sweep for Sarfaraz Khan to take a catch. At the end of 15th over, KXIP were 122 for 7 and they could add 33 more runs at the expense of three wickets thanks to Ashwin’s breezy 21-ball 33.