: Having redeemed the qualifying chances of Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings in their two previous games, Royal Challengers Bangalore extended no such feel-good feeling to a woefully luckless Kings XI Punjab and marched to a six-wicket victory at the sparsely-filled PCA Stadium here on Friday night.
Chasing 182, Bangalore made up for a modest start through the belligerence of Man-of-the-Match Kevin Pietersen and Virat Kohli before Robin Uthappa's eight-ball 22 put the side firmly on the victory course.
In fact, off the 17th over that produced 25 runs, Uthappa smashed Brett Lee for two sixes and a four to effectively end Punjab's flickering hopes.
The result could well have been different had Ravi Bopara not dropped a regulation catch of Pietersen on 46, a ball after Bipul Sharma sent back Kohli. In addition, S. Sreesanth completely missed a catch offered by Kohli and skipper Kumar Sangakkara spilled what could have been a brilliant running catch (of Pietersen) and then inadvertently kicked the ball past the ropes.
Pietersen went on to finish the job with a boundary off Irfan Pathan in the final over.
After what was the eighth game for the teams, Bangalore has 10 points while Punjab, after seven losses and two poiints, is virtually out of the hunt for a place in the semifinals.
Earlier, for the second time in the competition, the Punjab batsmen showed Bangalore bowlers held no terrors. Having scored 203 in a losing cause when the sides met last month, Punjab posted a formidable 181 for five. Significantly, the last six overs produced 76 runs compared to just 41 runs in the first six.
Though not a single batsman touched the 50-run mark, two half-centuries stands ensured that host give itsbowlers a fair opportunity to do a successful job.
Sangakkara, back in the squad after serving a one-match ban, was in his element in the company of Manvinder Bisla. The positive intent of the duo produced 63 runs 7.2 overs to offset the early loss of Shaun Marsh. After hitting 12 boundaries between them, both departed after threatening to cause more damage.
Later, the consolidation came in the form of a 65-run stand between Ravi Bopara and Yuvraj Singh in 6.3 overs. Though Bopara was happy to stay till the end, Yuvraj for once showed some character.
In the line of fire after a series of indifferent displays, Yuvraj did his bit to prove his detractors wrong. He fell in search of his third six after giving the innings the impetus it needed. But going by the recent performances of the Punjab bowlers, the target looked inadequate.
Kings XI Punjab: S. Marsh c Dravid b Vinay 2 (9b), M. Bisla b Kumble 28 (26b, 4x4), K. Sangakkara c Kallis b Steyn 45 (27b, 8x4), R. Bopara (not out) 42 (33b, 3x4), Yuvraj c White b Kallis 36 (20b, 3x4, 2x6), Irfan (run out) 16 (5b, 2x4, 1x6), B. Lee (not out) 1 (1b), Extras (b-2, lb-1, nb-1 w-7) 11, Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs) 181.
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-66, 3-84, 4-149, 5-180.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Praveen 4-0-37-0, Vinay 3-0-24-1, Steyn 4-0-31-1, Kallis 4-0-45-1, Kumble 4-0-33-1, Pietersen 1-0-8-0.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: M. Pandey (run out) 29 (25b, 4x3), J. Kallis c Bisla b Srivastava 9 (10b, 1x4), K. Pietersen (not out) 66 (44b, 7x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c Pathan b Bipul 42 (26b, 4x4, 1x6), R. Uthappa c Bisla b Irfan 22 (8b, 1x4, 2x6), C. White (not out) 6 (3b, 1x4), Extras (lb-3, nb-1, w-6) 10, Total (for four wkts. in 19.1 overs) 184.
Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-54, 3-130, 4-170.
Kings XI Punjab bowling: Lee 4-0-48-0, Sreesanth 2-0-14-0, Srivastava 2-0-21-1, Chawla 2-0-22-0, Bipul 4-0-26-1, Yuvraj 2-0-14-0, Irfan 3.1-0-36-1.