Faf du Plessis soaked in tremendous pressure while carving out a captain’s knock of 96 before pacer Josh Hazlewood produced a superb bowling performance to take four wickets and help Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Lucknow Super Giants in their Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the DY Patil Stadium on Tuesday. Du Plessis rescued RCB from 62/4 after a poor start to help them post 181/6, which they successfully defended to win by 18 runs. LSG were restricted to 163/8.
The RCB skipper had two balls left in the last over to get to his hundred but failed to clear the backward square-leg fielder, ending by only equalling his IPL career-best score. The disappointment of missing out on a maiden hundred will be overcome by the value of his runs. On a lively pitch, he played the role of a lone ranger, doing a brilliant job to revive the innings by hitting 11 fours and two sixes facing 64 balls.
It was RCB’s fifth win in seven games and they now move to 10 points, equal with Gujarat Titans at the top of the table.
LSG’s hopes of chasing down the total depended heavily on skipper KL Rahul. It was a pitch which tested the batter’s technique. LSG also lost two quick wickets – Quinton de Kock for three and Manish Pandey for six. Fresh from his century against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, Rahul showed the skills to hold one end up and took the score past 50 in seven overs. Luck deserted him though and on the last ball of the eighth over he was caught off a faint edge on the leg side. With their talismanic opener gone for 30 for 24 balls, LSG needed 118 off 72 balls with seven wickets in hand.
Krunal Pandya kept finding the fence and with his second six took the total to 83/3 after 10 overs. LSG now required 99 runs in the second half of their innings. Pandya made 42 off 28 balls before getting out. After 15 overs, the equation was 65 off 30 balls with Ayush Badoni and Marcus Stoinis at the crease. But Hazlewood first packed off Badoni in the 17th over and then sent back his Australia teammate Stoinis to end LSG’s hopes.
Du Plessis’ knock not only helped put the innings back on track, it lifted the spirits of the RCB faithful, most of whom had come wearing Virat Kohli’s jersey.
To the shock of the fans, the superstar cricketer was out first-ball in the first over. Once an epitome of consistency, he is in the midst of a dismal run.
Kohli started IPL with 41 not out off 29 balls against Punjab Kings but since then his sequence reads: 12, 5, 48, 1, 12 and 0.
He was out playing away from the body to Dushmantha Chameera’s back of a length delivery, guiding the ball into the hands of Deepak Hooda at backward point.
Du Plessis rebuilt the innings. Where the RCB captain turned the game on LSG was how he milked their spinners from the 12th over onwards. The successful combination of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi and left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya were hit for a four and a six each by Du Plessis to move to 61 off 44 balls at the end of the 15th over.
The opening batter also upset Rahul’s plan of keeping Bishnoi’s over for RCB’s finisher Dinesh Karthik. When the leg-spinner was brought on for the 18th over, Du Plessis faced all his six balls and took 14 runs off it to take his team to a good total.