New Delhi: A new day, but the same old result as the batsmen let the Royal Challengers Bangalore down at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. Chasing 158 for a win, RCB managed just 96/9 as they lost by 61 runs and are now all but out of this year’s tournament. Only mathematics still keeps them in the hunt.
Skipper Virat Kohli played a lone hand as he finished with 55, but it was not just enough as the other batsmen just refused to bide time in the middle. Travis Head, replacing Chris Gayle, could manage just 2. AB de Villiers managed just 3, Kedar Jadhav managed 7 and Sachin Baby scored 2. Surprisingly, Kohli was the only batsman in the top 5 who managed to reach double digits.
While RCB batted poorly, no denying the fact that Steve Smith was very sharp with his captaincy and field placing. And the bowlers responded brilliantly with Imran Tahir leading the charge, finishing with figures of 3/18 off 4 overs. Lockie Ferguson and Washington Sundar were just as good with figures of 2/7 and 1/7 respectively.
The Pune bowlers tightened the screws perfectly and Kohli was finally dismissed for 55 as he looked to attack with RCB needing 74 off 14 balls at more than 31 runs per over. He slashed hard and Mayank Agarwal completed a good catch at deep extra-cover off Dan Christian’s bowling. The slower ball doing the trick.
A livid Kohli walked back to the dressing room, an expression in stark contrast to the one he exuded at the end of Pune’s innings earlier in the afternoon. The loss makes it 7 losses in 10 games for RCB this season.
They now need to win all their remaining games and hope that the other results come out in their favour if they still wish to make it to the knockouts, a far-fetched dream.
Earlier, Kohli won the toss and decided to have a bowl first. The RCB bowlers started well and Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi managed to score only at a run-rate of 6 runs per over till Samuel Badree dismissed Rahane (6) caught by Milne in the 4th over.
Skipper Smith joined Tripathi in the middle and they kept scoring the singles and doubles before they broke the shackles to an extent in the 6th over as Yuzvendra Chahal gave away 12 runs off his first over. But just when it looked like they would take the game away from RCB, Pawan Negio dismissed Tripathi for 37.
Another brilliant 30-plus score this season for Tripathi. But his failure to go on and score the big one has cost his team. And even on Saturday, it was against the run of play as he slashed hard and managed to get a feather touch to Kedar Jadhav behind the wicket.
Manoj Tiwary came in to join Smith in the middle and the boundaries also dried up, even though Tiwary had started with a boundary off his first delivery. Smith finally hit a flurry of boundaries as Badree conceded 16 runs off the 12th over of the innings.
But once again, just when it looked like Smith would take the attack to the RCB bowlers, Stuart Binny got the better of Smith (45) as Adam Milne completed a juggling catch at fine-leg. With six overs left in the innings, MS Dhoni came in to join Tiwary and the RCB bowlers put up a great show as they dried up the boundaries considerably.
In fact, from a score of 111/3 after 15 overs, Pune managed just 46 runs off the last 5 overs with 7 wickets in the bag. RCB were right back in the game with skipper Virat Kohli walking back to the dressing room at the end of the Pune innings with his head held high.
While Dhoni remained unbeaten on 21 off 17 balls, Tiwary hit 44 off 35 balls. Both the batsmen failed to accelerate against the RCB pacers who used the conditions to their advantage and bowled a variety of slower deliveries.