Bangalore: A bustling Virat Kohli half-century was the highlight of Royal Challengers Bangalore's seven-wicket win as the home team leveled the scores with Sunrisers Hyderabad following their Super Over loss to the same opponents on Sunday. Set a target of 162, RCB lost their openers in the space of six deliveries after a brisk start but found their hero in skipper Kohli whose IPL-best 93 not out off 47 balls hastened victory with 14 balls remaining at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Cameron White and Thisara Perera boosted Hyderabad from another sluggish start, but the visitors will look back at the evening and feel they launched an assault too late, despite keeping so many wickets in hand. After Kumar Sangakkara opted to bat on a fast outfield, the trend of teams starting slow continued with Hyderabad taking 40 for 1 off the Powerplay, their best score after the six-over block (in their previous matches they took 31 for 2 and 40 for 2). RP Singh was given the new ball in his first match for RCB and produced an early breakthrough in the third over, as Akshath Reddy loosely drove to mid-on for 12.
Parthiv Patel (20) and Sangakkara (23) threw away starts before the half-way mark, which left Hyderabad struggling for the first 14 overs. The team was lifted by an 80-run partnership in 44 deliveries between White (52) and Perera (40) - the pair looted 51 runs between overs 15 to 17 - but RCB did well to peg Hyderabad at the death. Walking across his stumps, Perera was bowled for a 24-ball 40 in RP's third over before White picked out AB de Villiers at long-off on the last ball of the penultimate over. The 20th began with RP yorking Ashish Reddy for his third wicket and Hyderabad could only take six off six balls.
Mayank Agarwal dominated a 39-run start with a sedate Chris Gayle, hitting three fours and a couple sixes in a busy 29 that ended on the first ball from Perera. Looking to heave the Sri Lankan allrounder over the infield, Agarwal top-edged to cover. In the next over, Ishant Sharma hit back after conceding 15 runs earlier when he moved the ball away from Gayle's bat to produce a thin edge.
Kohli started the counter-punch by swatting Perera for six, followed by boundaries off Amit Mishra and Reddy. White's introduction for the 12th over started with Kohli smacking four and six, but off the final ball de Villiers swung a rank half-tracker to the man at deep midwicket (96 for 3). With RCB needing 51 off the last six overs, Sangakkara turned to Steyn for one last over. Kohli and Moises Henriques saw off the threat, with the captain reaching his fifty in 31 balls courtesy an edged couple behind point. With Steyn having bowled out (4-0-16-0), Sangakkara was left to maneuver the last five overs with Mishra, Ishant and Perera.
Kohli took Mishra for consecutive sixes down the ground to reduce the target to 33 from 28 ball and then pulled the legspinner for four before the 16th over was up. In the next, Kohli assaulted Perera with boundaries to long-off, third man and deep backward point and finished the chase in the 19th over with two fours off Ishant. It was a superb innings from Kohli, dripping with confidence and class. Considering the failures of heavyweights Gayle and de Villiers, Bangalore could not have asked for a better innings from their captain.