June 17 2019
Gritty Royal Challengers stay in the hunt
18 May 2018

Willamson, Pandey take Sunrisers Hyderabad within striking distance before home team claws its way back

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s hopes of advancing to the IPL playoffs are alive yet. Virat Kohli’s men stuttered and stumbled in their defence of 218, but hung on to snatch a 14-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad at an atmospheric M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday.

Kane Williamson’s 42-ball-81 — an innings of the highest quality — and his partnership with Manish Pandey took Sunrisers within striking distance of the target before the home side clawed its way back.

RCB will now face Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday, hoping a win will be enough to go through.

Mohammed Siraj removed Williamson off the first ball of the final over, when 20 runs were still needed, and the stadium exploded in relief.

Required rate rises

A little earlier, when A.B. de Villiers took an outrageous catch on the boundary to dismiss Alex Hales — leaping in the air to grab the ball one-handed before expertly landing inside the rope — in the eighth over, the required rate had almost risen to 13 an over.

But Williamson and Pandey did not ease up, adding 135 off 67 balls. As the runs flowed, the Kiwi unfurling shot after delightful shot, RCB was worried. But Kohli had the last laugh.

The RCB captain would have preferred to chase, but having been asked to bat, his side approached the task as if no total was going to be safe.

At the heart of the effort was a break-neck 107-run stand (57b) for the third wicket, between de Villiers and Moeen Ali. The pair was united at the crease after Kohli had been bowled trying to slog-sweep Rashid Khan, one ball after having pulled him for four. It might have been wiser for the RCB skipper to treat the leg-spinner with some caution.

Business at once

de Villiers got down to business at once, sending the first two balls he faced to the fence. It seemed like one of those days when the South African could do no wrong. Anything wide was cut, anything short pulled without mercy. He had to wait 35 balls for his first (and only) six, but it was a 105-metre monster, a full toss from Basil Thampi that he got under and sent soaring out of the stadium.

Moeen was dealing largely in sixes, without a hint of violence about any of those shots. The Englishman raised his maiden IPL fifty off 25 balls, striking six sixes in all.

SRH chose to rest Bhuvneshwar Kumar, fielding Thampi instead. The Kerala bowler endured a chastening evening, conceding 70 off his four overs, the most expensive spell in IPL history.

de Villiers and Moeen both fell in the space of three balls to the excellent Rashid but the carnage did not end there. SRH had only five full-time bowlers to call on, and as Colin de Grandhomme cut loose, there was little Williamson could do.

The most SRH had conceded this season going into this game had been 193; that figure was easily surpassed on this occasion, with 134 runs hammered off the final 10 overs.



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