Pune Warriors' dismal run in the IPL continued as Royal Challengers Bangalore turned in a fine all-round performance to secure an untroubled 26-run win at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
Yuvraj Singh briefly threatened to take the game away from the host but his side's hopes vanished when he was caught attempting a heave off the excellent Zaheer Khan. The result marked the visitor's fifth straight defeat, and saw RCB climb to second position in the table.
With 182 needed for victory, Pune's innings did not begin too badly with Jesse Ryder looking unsure to begin with but soon finding his feet. The strapping Kiwi top-scored with 51, scoring sixes off Zaheer Khan and Abhimanyu Mithun but fell when his side perhaps needed him to carry on at one end, holing out to mid-wicket off Syed Mohammad.
Paine, Pandey struggle
Tim Paine and Manish Pandey struggled during their time at the crease, the former falling to S. Arvind and the latter to Daniel Vettori. Yuvraj Singh arrived with Pune needing 103 off 51 deliveries, and struck his first six in the 15th over, clattering Vettori into the crowd beyond mid-wicket.
The southpaw went berserk two overs later, mowing Syed straight down the ground and on the legside for two massive sixes. However, with 52 required off the last 19 balls, Yuvraj fell, taking with him his team's chances.
Zaheer, Arvind and Mithun all bowled with admirable control, staunching the flow of runs with the help of some spectacular fielding.
Earlier, Yuvraj won the toss and opted to field first. Pune Warriors handed left-arm seamer Kamran Khan his IPL-4 debut, fielding him at the expense of the experienced Murali Kartik — a decision Chris Gayle instantly made appear hare-brained.
Gayle sank his teeth into Khan, in what was the second over of the match, driving the opening ball to the extra-cover boundary before insouciantly burying the third over long-off. The Jamaican clubbed another six and a four, taking 20 runs off the over.
Khan switched ends, but found little respite. Gayle carried on with his mayhem, clobbering the hapless youngster for 17 more runs.
At the other end, however, Rahul Sharma, introduced in the third over, maintained the splendid standards he had set for himself in the season that far. The 24-year-old bowled Tillakaratne Dilshan off his fourth ball, after the Sri Lankan had wildly slashed at and missed the previous two.
Gayle did not look entirely comfortable either, falling leg-before to the leg-spinner for a typically explosive 49 (26b, 4x4, 4x6). Sharma's opening, three-over spell yielded two wickets for a measly 13 runs.
The dismissal brought Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers together, and the pair, although measured in their initial approach, had the scoreboard ticking over. The former soon shed his restraint, whipping Khan — who, unfathomably, was given a third over — beyond long on for six.
Kohli then went after Rahul in the latter's final over, mildly tarring his figures, before doing the same to Jesse Ryder. He brought up his 1000th IPL run with a delectable flick off Jerome Taylor that sailed over square leg.
Kohli eventually fell for 67 (42b, 4x4, 4x6), a knock that also saw him grab the ‘orange cap'. A couple of beefy blows by Saurabh Tiwary propelled RCB to 181, a figure that was to prove beyond Pune's reach.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: C. Gayle lbw R. Sharma 49 (26b, 4x4, 4x6), T. Dilshan b R. Sharma 15 (19b, 2x4), V. Kohli c Harpreet b Thomas 67 (42b, 4x4, 4x6), A.B. de Villiers c R. Sharma b Thomas 26 (20b, 1x4, 1x6), S. Tiwary c Harpreet b Taylor 14 (8b, 1x4, 1x6), M. Kaif (not out) 8 (5b, 1x4), A. Mithun (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (w-1, b-1): 2; Total (for five wickets in 20 overs): 181.
Fall of wickets: 1-57, 2-74, 3-140, 4-169, 5-179.
Pune bowling: Thomas 4-0-23-2, Taylor 4-0-44-1, Khan 3-0-47-0, Sharma 4-0-27-2, Manhas 1-0-9-0, Yuvraj 2-0-10-0, Ryder 2-0-20-0.
Pune Warriors India: J. Ryder c Kaif b Syed 51 (34b, 4x4, 2x6), T. Paine c Vettori b Arvind 8 (17b), M. Pandey c Tiwary b Vettori 19 (23b, 2x4), Yuvraj Singh c Syed b Zaheer 41 (23b, 2x4, 3x6), R. Uthappa (not out) 23 (17b, 3x4, 1x6), M. Manhas c Kaif b Gayle 3 (5b), Harpreet Singh (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (w-5, lb-4): 9; Total (for five wickets in 20 overs): 155.
Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-79, 3-101, 4-131, 5-137.
RCB bowling: Zaheer 4-0-33-1, Arvind 4-0-35-1, Mithun 4-0-26-0, Vettori 4-0-23-1, Gayle 2-0-8-1, Syed 2-0-26-1.
Man-of-the-Match: Virat Kohli.
Correction: The report says Rahul Sharma was introduced in the third over. It should be seventh over.