AB de Villiers smashed a 44-ball 82 to help Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Kings XI Punjab and ensure that they lived to fight another day in the Indian Premier League.
Virat Kohli’s men claimed their fourth victory in five games as Punjab’s woeful run continued.
Visiting captain Ravichandran Ashwin felt that the team could have shown more composure in pressure-situations. However, the spinner maintained that they were never outplayed by any opposition despite the poor run of form.
“There can be so many places where I thought we lost the game, but honestly in a T20 game it’s all about winning those pressure moments which we have not been able to win in the last few games,” he said.
“If we had actually held onto those crunch moments, we might have had a couple of more points or probably four points but that’s that, we weren’t able to close it out and we got some experience in the middle order couldn’t really close it out in the crucial moments today.
“It’s all about getting one win together and we can get on a roll like RCB won three in a row now, so it’s all about getting one win and then we go back home and then we probably try to win a couple on the trot. It’s very important to keep trust in the players.
“We held onto giving players enough opportunities to try and come out on trumps. It’s important to back the players. In all the eleven games we played to be brutally honest, we haven’t been outplayed by any opposition which is a great positive for us. The one area we could really work on is the powerplay and the back-end finishing.”
Kohli, meanwhile, is glad that his team are enjoying their cricket and believes that this has helped them pull out four wins in the last five games. The Indian skipper wants the team to make a statement, as the world takes note.
“We won 4 out of the last 5 we have played, it could have been 5 out of 5. We are just looking to enjoy our cricket. Tonight was another example of having fun. The partnership of ABD and Stoinis changed the match for us,” he said.
“At one stage we thought 175 was good but AB and Marcus got us past 200. The way they played was the deciding factor. Our only focus was to play good as a team, we know that we are a good side, losing 6 in a row hurt all of us. That big break before Mohali helped us.
“It is important that we don’t take any pressure. We just need to play how the world knows we can play. When two left-handers came in, we got a lot of dot balls and that was a crucial factor for us. Having 6-7 bowling options is a luxury for any team.
“I can pick and choose who is bowling well. Marcus brings in a lot of balance to our team. It was an outstanding effort by the bowlers today.”
Despite changing the game with the bat, De Villiers deflected the credit to the bowlers who did well to hold Punjab at the death.
“I tried to stay calm in the last few overs. It is not easy always, the game is happening at a rapid pace. We know our home ground very well, it hasn’t been a great hunting ground for us to start with but we are turning things around now. And we are doing things well now,” said the South African.
“We are doing good as a team now. I still think 160 was a par score but it gets easier in the second innings. Our bowlers executed their plans to perfection in the end.”
RCB kept their faint hopes of making the IPL 2019 playoffs alive thanks to their third straight tight win. If anything, this 17-run victory over Kings XI Punjab was a comfortable margin after the nail-biters against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings.
AB de Villiers was the architect of this win, hitting 82 off 44, with 58 off his last 19 balls to take RCB past 200. KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, and Mayank Agarwal gave Kings XI a good start, and Nicholas Pooran nearly provided the finish, but they couldn’t avoid a fifth defeat in seven games.
DEATH OVERS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Finishing the innings has been the toughest task for RCB this season, both with bat and ball. On Wednesday they managed both. They were 138-4 at the end of the 17th over of their innings, but De Villiers and Marcus Stoinis exploded in the last three to plunder 64 runs.
Hardus Viljoen had entered the death overs with figures of 1-8 from his first two overs, then went for 43 in his last two, while De Villiers hit Mohammad Shami for three sixes in a row in the 19th over.
Both batsman finished well after slow starts. De Villiers was on 25 off 25 at one point, while Stoinis was 26 off 30 when he took strike for the third ball of the final over. From those last four deliveries, he hit four, six, four, and six.
Punjab began their chase of 203 well, and they were ahead of the required rate after ten overs. With RCB’s death-bowling struggles all season – they nearly failed to defend 70 and 93 off the last five overs in their previous two games – even a slow-down after Rahul and Agarwal fell wouldn’t have concerned Kings XI too much, especially as they needed a comparatively paltry 60.
Yet this time, Bangalore’s death bowlers showed up. Though the 16th and 17th overs went for 24, after that Umesh Yadav conceded just six, Navdeep Saini bowled a superb 19th over with two wickets for just three runs, and Yadav came back to finish the job.
The 19th & 20th overs pretty much decided the match: -— Victor Tarapore (@VictorTarapore) April 24, 2019
RCB - 48 ✅
KXIP - 12 ❌
RCB - 0 ✅
KXIP - 4 ❌
RCB - 8 ✅
KXIP - 1 ❌
For the majority of their chase #KXIP were AHEAD of RCB: Not at the end of the 20th#MakeStatsGreatAgain #RCBvKXIP #VIVOIPL #IPL2019 pic.twitter.com/lraS4A2Tmm
TWO TEAMS GOING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
Bangalore have a realistic shot of becoming the first team to reach the playoffs after losing the first six games of a season thanks to their current three-game winning run, even if they haven’t convinced during that spell. The next game in Delhi against the surging Capitals is their toughest remaining test, as after that they face the inconsistent Rajasthan Royals and a Sunrisers Hyderabad side that will be missing both David Warner and Jonny Bairstow, with both games at home.
Win all three and they’ll be on 14 points, a tally Delhi have already reached and Mumbai Indians will expect to, as well, as they’re currently on 12. Chennai have already qualified and it’s likely that those two teams will join them. After that, however, Bangalore can look at the other teams and still fancy their chances.
Hyderabad, on 10 points, have been in form in recent weeks, but the losses of Warner and Bairstow, their top two run-scorers, will hit them hard. Bangalore have already caught up Kolkata on eight points, albeit having played one game more, but the Knight Riders have lost five straight. And then there’s Punjab.
They’re sitting on 10 points and thus have a slight advantage over Bangalore, as well as Hyderabad for the aforementioned reasons – Punjab face no such major losses in their squad. But the current run of form is concerning, especially as it’s a repeat of last season when they started well before stumbling and failing to make the playoffs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 202/4
AB de Villiers 82* (44)
Marcus Stoinis 46* (34)
R Ashwin 1/15
Kings XI Punjab 185/7
Nicholas Pooran 46 (28)
KL Rahul 42 (27)
Virat Kohli’s RCB side remain bottom of the table but have been in excellent form of late with three wins in their last four matches.
KXIP, on the other hand, are now down in fifth spot in the table after picking up five victories and as many losses in their 10 games so far.
Will RCB secure a third-straight win to keep their play-off hopes alive or will Kings XI bounce back into the top-four? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates from Bengaluru below.