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All-round Pune breach Bangalore bastion

Wisden India logo Wisden India 16-04-2017
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Rising Pune Supergiant survived a dramatic middle-order collapse to defeat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 27 runs in the 17th match of the Indian Premier League 2017 on Sunday (April 16). Pune’s victory at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium relegated the home side to the bottom of the points table, with only one win from five games so far.

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Shardul Thakur and Ben Stokes shared six wickets equally in a disciplined bowling effort to contain the hosts to 134 for 9 as Pune successfully defended 161 for 8, their second win of the season helping them climbing off the foot of the table to the sixth spot.

Having pulled things back when Pune had looked to kick on through Steven Smith and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Bangalore had a huge slice of luck early in their chase. Virat Kohli, their captain and opener, was given a reprieve on 11 when Manoj Tiwary made a hash of a regulation chance at first slip off Shardul Thakur’s bowling. Thakur, however, did strike in that same over, getting rid of Mandeep Singh.

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The damage from that drop was limited to just 17 runs when Kohli top-edged a sharp short ball from Stokes to Ajinkya Rahane, sweeping on the offside. Bangalore, who had left out Chris Gayle, were immediately slowed down by Kohli’s dismissal.

AB de Villiers struck the occasional boundary, but when Tahir had him stumped by the lightning quick Dhoni, he had scored 29 off just 30 deliveries. At 70 for 3 in the 11th over on a pitch that was gripping, it was game on.

As Kedar Jadhav and Shane Watson struggled for timing on the slowing surface, the asking rate crept up to over 13 in the 15th over, when Jadhav gave charge to Jaydev Unadkat and inside-edged a heave on to his stumps.

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With the asking rate climbing steeply, Stuart Binny slapped Stokes over point in the 16th over to end a boundary-less spell spanning 38 balls. Watson then struck one over cover for another four, before Stokes got one to keep low to have him clean bowled for 14 off 18 balls.

Binny struck boundaries off successive balls in the 17th over bowled by Dan Christian to keep the Bangalore faithful interested. But in the following over, Thakur removed Pawan Negi and Binny to decisively swing the game in the visitors’ favour.

Earlier in the evening, on being sent in, Pune relied on moderate contributions from many batsmen to get to an eventually defendable total. Five batsmen got past the 25-run mark, but Rahul Tripathi’s 23-ball 31 was the highest score. Tiwary’s explosive hitting at the death gave Pune the necessary cushion after a stunning middle-order collapse of 5 for 7 threatened to completely derail them.

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In the Power Play overs, Rahane and Tripathi put on 55 runs. The two openers batted positively without taking undue risk, cautious in the game’s first over from Adam Milne but upping the ante thereafter.

Rahane brought up the first boundary of the innings with a wristy clip to deep midwicket off Samuel Badree’s first ball, a low full toss. The batsmen used Milne’s pace to their advantage, milking 17 runs off his second over.

The score had reached 64 when the first wicket fell. Badree, one of two men who took a hat-trick on Friday, bowled Rahane for a 25-ball 30 with a googly. Tripathi fell in the very next over, trying to drive Negi through covers, only for Kohli to dive low to his left to take a blinder. Pune had slipped from 64 without loss to 69 for 2 and the brakes were applied.

Dhoni, who had scored all of 33 runs in four innings prior to this game, looked tentative initially, playing out five dots at the start of his innings. Two cuts in one Badree over helped him shed the shackles.

As a glimpse of the Dhoni of old came through, the Bangalore crowd started cheering for the celebrated former India captain, trying to urge him out of his recent slump even while remaining loyal to the home side. Chants of ‘RCB’ and ‘Dhoni’ clashed to provide an electric atmosphere.

After two tight overs and some more nervy moments, Dhoni stepped down to Yuzvendra Chahal, got to the pitch, and sent the ball onto the M Chinnaswamy roof over the long-on fence.

Smith, meanwhile, was timing the ball well, and brought up the 50-run partnership with a swat to midwicket off Watson. With the partnership starting to threaten the home side, the crowd was unequivocally delighted when Dhoni chopped a wide full ball from Watson on to his stumps for a 25-ball 28, ending a 58-run stand for the third wicket.

The dismissal triggered a dramatic collapse as Pune slipped from 127 for 2 to 130 for 7.

Smith fell for a 24-ball 27 off the very next ball, the first of the 17th. S Arvind struck again in the same over, sending the dangerous Christian back for 1. Milne then removed Stokes and Thakur off consecutive balls in the 18th over.

Tiwary, batting at No. 7, struck two sixes and three boundaries, helping Pune past the 160-run mark. By the time he was run out off the final ball, he had made an excellent 27 off 11 balls. Crucial runs, as the end result showed.

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