PUNE: Virat Kohli looked like a man lost for words. Only thing he could do was look exasperatedly at his Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates as they departed one after the other. Despite managing to restrict hosts Rising Pune Supergiant to a commendable 157, their batting department failed spectacularly once again.
The visitors ended up with 96/9 in their allotted 20 overs. With the loss, Bangalore are virtually out of the tournament. Even if they win their remaining games, they will reach 13 points. A lot of variables need to come good if RCB are to make it through to the play-offs. From runners-up last time around, to almost out of the IPL with four games still to be played. The entire team management must be mightily displeased. With the victory, Pune now have 10 points from 9 outings but remained fourth.
A must win fixture for the team, and trying to pursue a very chaseable total, the Bengaluru franchise must have thought the batsmen will come good this time around. But the match, from RCB’s perspective was a classic example of Murphy’s Law. Anything that could have gone wrong for RCB, did indeed go wrong!
Stats tell the whole story. RCB have lost 17 wickets during Powerplays in this edition of the IPL. Their Powerplay run rate of 6.64 is also the lowest among all teams. These don’t auger well for any side hoping to make it big in this format.
Chris Gayle did not make it to the playing XI. He was replaced by Adam Milne. Travis Head accompanied his skipper out to the middle. But he didn’t last long as he was cleaned up by Jaydev Unadkat for 2. What followed was a horror show for Kohli standing in the non-striker’s end.
The slide began with the talismanic AB de Villiers (3). The South African, who could do no wrong last season, hit a backfoot drive straight to short cover's hands. Soon to depart to play for his country, De Villiers has mustered 16 runs in his last 3 outings.
In came local boy, Kedar Jadhav (7). A mix-up with the skipper saw the 32-year-old run-out. There was no run available as he and Kohli looked for an overthrow single with the ball a few feet away from the bowler. Seventh run-out for RCB in the tournament, most among all teams. Sachin Baby (2), a replacement for Mandeep Singh, didn’t last long. Stuart Binny top-edged a hook and was caught at long leg. The score read 48 for 5.
Kohli did score a half century (55 off 48) but it proved to be in vain. Except for Kohli, all players ended up with single-digit scores. An occurrence that has happened 37 times for RCB. A damning statistic indeed! More than any fancy bowling or snazzy field placement, it was RCB’s woeful display with the willow that contributed to their seventh loss.
Earlier, after Kohli had won the toss and decided to bowl was a rather subdued batting effort from Pune as at the end of their 20 overs, they managed to muster 157 for the loss of three wickets. Rahul Tripathi (37 off 28) continued his rich vein of form as he scored his sixth consecutive 30+ score in this edition of the IPL. RPS skipper Steve Smith (45 off 32) was the other star for the hosts with the bat.