You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bangalore squeeze out one-run heist

Wisden India logo Wisden India 09-05-2016

The spectators at the PCA Stadium had come to see a Virat Kohli special on Monday (May 9). They got an AB de Villiers master-class instead, though judging by the chants of “AB, AB” ringing around the ground, it made for a perfectly acceptable substitute. M Vijay then not only matched de Villiers for class, but surpassed him even, stroking away 89 off 57 as Kings XI Punjab mounted a spirited chase, but the home crowd were left disappointed in the end, their team losing by the thinnest of margins.

© Wisden

De Villiers swept, flicked and drove his way to a quite scintillating 64 off 35, the centrepiece of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 175 for 6. Neither his nor Vijay’s innings deserved to come in a losing cause, but most of the support cast around Vijay let him down as Punjab finished on 174 for 4, just a solitary run short. The result meant Bangalore moved up to sixth on the table with eight points, while Punjab remained stuck on six points and the bottom spot.

Vijay was imperious during his stay at the crease, and while he was in, hope remained alive. But with his dismissal to Shane Watson, the equation of 37 off the last three overs proved too steep for Punjab, if only just. Chris Jordan had gone for 37 runs in three overs and was an odd choice to bowl the final over when Varun Aaron, who had given only 25 in three overs, was available. In the end, Marcus Stoinis (34 not out off 22) threw his bat and connected, but Bangalore just about managed to squeeze home.

At the start of the day, KL Rahul continued his good form, even as Kohli was a somewhat subdued version of his usual dominant self. Kohli enjoyed a let-off, Stoinis clanging a sitter off the last ball of the third over with the batsman on 11 to deny Mohit Sharma and Punjab a key wicket. Stoinis took the ball for the next over only to be carted for three fours and a six – all to different areas of the ground – as Rahul went after him. But the arrival of KC Cariappa in the eighth over altered the scenario dramatically, the mystery spinner getting both Rahul and Kohli. A quicker one on the stumps defeated Rahul’s sweep, and Kohli didn’t get any timing while hitting the ball straight to Vijay at cover. Suddenly, Bangalore had gone from 61 without loss in seven overs to 64 for 2 in eight. That was made worse when Axar Patel flattened Watson’s stumps to make it 67 for 3, Rahul having made 42 (25 balls) of those runs.

De Villiers began quietly, as he had to given the rush of wickets after he came in at No. 3, and started the rebuilding job with Sachin Baby. Both batsmen were in accumulation mode, with only the odd boundary coming. Punjab’s bowlers didn’t give too many freebies, but they couldn’t break through, until eventually it was de Villiers who exploded. Brought back in the 16th over with Bangalore 113 for 3, Sandeep Sharma felt the full wrath of de Villiers. One ball was swept from outside off-stump for six, another that was roughly in the same spot was drilled into the cover fence. In the next over, Mohit bowled one of his slower legcutters that might have defeated most batsmen – de Villiers merely took position as if swinging an axe, and sent the ball back past the bowler hard and fast.

© Wisden

In the next over, he swept Sandeep into the square-leg crowd from off his toes after having backed away. Anti-climatically, he was caught at third-man inside the circle after having perfectly middled his steer. During the three overs in which he exploded, Bangalore plundered 42 runs, de Villiers’s contribution 39 off 14. Travis Head and Baby kept busy in the last two overs to give Bangalore a good total, with 73 runs coming off the last six overs.

The Kings XI chase began with the classical pair of Vijay and Hashim Amla striding out for a new opening combination. But while Vijay found his timing, Amla’s was all awry. The South African fell trying to pull Watson from outside offstump, caught inside the circle at midwicket. Punjab built on the opening stand of 45 in 5.3 overs steadily until Yuzvendra Chahal induced panic in the chase with Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller falling off consecutive balls, the former ruled run-out after Rahul hadn’t collected cleanly and the ball bounced off his helmet grill, and the latter stumped. Punjab went from 88 for 1 to 88 for 3, and with the caution induced by the wickets, a couple of quiet overs went by.

Vijay was still in fine touch though, and with Stoinis walking out at No. 5 to join him, they were still very much in the game, especially with Bangalore’s bowling not having the most stellar record.

The most impressive part of Vijay’s batting was how un-frenetic he looked, even when he was going along at a strike-rate of above 150. He also showed an ability to find the fence when most needed. If the Bangalore bowlers found a few dot balls, Vijay unfurled supreme timing – both with bat meeting ball and Punjab’s required run-rate. There was a pulled six off Aaron that almost didn’t make a sound leaving the bat, and the fours were caressed, not bludgeoned. Vijay was single-handedly keeping Punjab in the chase, but he became Watson’s second wicket.

It appeared that the dénouement after that would be swift, but a spirited Punjab never gave up. In the end, they didn’t lose the match as Bangalore somehow won it.

More from Wisden India

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon