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The Royal Challengers Bangalore built on a tight win at home over Pune a couple of nights ago with another authoritative 5 wicket win over underdogs Punjab in Mohali on Friday. Punjab, after being put in to bat, posted a competitive 163/6 in their 20 overs thanks to good contributions from stand in skipper David Hussey (41), Shaun Marsh (26) along with a blistering finish from Azhar Mahmood (33* off 14). Bangalore's chase was wrecked early by surprise package Parvinder Awana (4/34) that reduced them to 25/3 at one stage. But the experience and class of Chris Gayle (87) and AB de Villiers (52) proved to be too hot to handle for the hosts in the end as Bangalore headed home with a well deserved 2 points.
Match 25 of the DLF Indian Premier League between the Kings XI Punjab and the Royal Challengers Bangalore took place on Friday night at the PCA stadium in Mohali. Kings XI regular skipper Adam Gilchrist missed his first competitive game in 16 years owing to a hamstring strain he picked up in the last game and his compatriot David Hussey led the side in his absence. Punjab brought in ex-Pakistani all rounder Azhar Mahmood in his place along with South African David Miller at the expense of Dimitri Mascarenhas. The reserve keeper Nitin Saini too got a game in place of the out of form Paras Dogra. RCB too made a couple of interesting changes with Andrew McDonald preferred to Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan and Arun Karthik coming in for KP Appanna. RCB skipper Daniel Vettori won the toss and chose to field first.
The Royal Challengers bowlers stuck to their task early in the innings and restricted the Kings XI by picking up both the openers early. Zaheer Khan hit a good rhythm early on and dismissed Nitin Saini for 14, dragging one onto his stumps in the third over of the innings. The ace left armer struck again in his next over, this time inducing a false stroke from Paul Valthaty (6) and had him caught at mid off. The two dismissals brought the most capable pair of Shaun Marsh and David Hussey together at the crease for Punjab and the duo looked to take on the bowling straight away. After 6 overs, Bangalore were on top having picked up a couple of wickets early, but Punjab were starting to turn the heat on with 3 boundaries in the last over of the powerplay and reached 41/2.
Marsh and Hussey kept their attack going after the powerplay and picked up the scoring. Marsh was at his fluent best and played some awesome shots on the rise including a nonchalant straight hit over McDonald's head for four. The Aussie pair put on 30 in 19 balls and were threatening to do some serious damage before McDonald struck for Bangalore, completely against the run of play. Marsh (26), had played a flawless innings till he misread a leg cutter from his compatriot and saw the ball go through his attempted cut and cannon into the stumps.
That wicket saw David Miller make his way out for the first time this season and give some valuable support to his stand in captain. Hussey took charge and added 37 with Miller (8) before the later was caught at extra cover off the bowling of McDonald in the 14th over. Hussey (41) too fell in the very next over, dragging one on from Harshal Patel attempting an aggressive shot. After 15 overs, Kings XI had lost one wicket too many having reached a decent 105.
Azhar Mahmood then joined young Mandeep Singh at the wicket and played himself in for an over before launching a late innings assault. Mahmood was the star of the last 5 overs playing a splendid cameo of 33 from 14 balls that included 2 sixes and 3 fours to propel Punjab to a decent score. Mahmood hit some clean blows and mixed them up with some deft, clever ones too to help his team cross the 150 mark. He got good help from Mandeep Singh (20) and Piyush Chawla (7 off 3) due to which Punjab managed a healthy 163/6 from their 20 overs, giving their inexperienced attack something to defend.
Bangalore, in pursuit of 164, got off to the worst possible start. Surprise package Parvinder Awana struck twice in the second over for the hosts, first dismissing Mayank Agarwal for 1 before getting the key man Virat Kohli caught off the leading edge at point for 4. Sourabh Tiwary(4) walked in at No.4 and managed to add just 17 for the 3rd wicket before he was beaten for pace by the magnificent Awana. At 25/3, the established international pair of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers resurrected things for RCB. De Villiers was in silken touch and timed the ball perfectly right from the start while Gayle, looked to get in and set himself up for the long haul. The pair added beyond 50 for the 4th wicket and kept going sensibly getting RCB closer to the target. After 12 overs, Bangalore recovered well at 86/3 with Gayle and De Villiers threatening.
With 78 runs needed from 8 overs, the Gayle-De Villiers duo were very much in control of the chase on a beautiful batting pitch. They knocked off the singles comfortably with the field set back and punished the loose balls with disdain to inconspicuously reduce the required rate. Gayle pushed the scoring rate further after getting past fifty by smashing a hapless Praveen Kumar for 15 in one over to lighten the pressure. He then chose his moment again a couple of overs later to hit young Parvinder Awana for 18 in his last over to get the asking rate down to below 8.
De Villiers was as usual improvising in awesome fashion and he too got to his fifty in just 36 balls. With just 8 runs needed from 14 balls, Punjab got a late lifeline when Awana got rid of Gayle for 87 via a terrific one handed take from skipper Hussey at extra cover. De Villiers(52) too went LBW to Chawla in the penultimate over but it was all a little to late for Punjab. The experienced overseas duo of McDonald (8*) and Vettori (3*) saw the team home comfortably by 5 wickets with 3 balls to spare.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore got their campaign back on track with their second straight win, and they will hope to continue their good run of form when they host another team on the rise in this tournament, the Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday the 25th of April. Things don't gey any easier for Kings XI as they play host to the mighty Mumbai Indians on the same day.
KXIP: P Valthaty, S Marsh, D Miller, D Hussey, M Singh, N Saini, A Mahmood, P Chawla, Harmeet, P Kumar, P Awana
RCB: A McDonald, C Gayle, V Kohli, AB de Villiers, S Tiwary, A Karthik, M Aggarwal, H Patel, Z Khan, D Vettori, Vinay Kumar
Kings XI Punjab 163/6 (20 overs, 8.15 runs per over)
D Hussey 41(34) Z Khan 2/25
A Mahmood 33*(14) A McDonald 2/26
Royal Challengers Bangalore 166/5 (19.3 overs, 8.6 runs per over)
C Gayle 87(56) P Awana 4/34
AB de Villiers 52(39) P Chawla 1/21
Bangalore win by 5 wickets with 3 balls to spare
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