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Virat Kohli special helps hosts RCB trump Punjab Kings with four wickets to spare at IPL 2024

Virat Kohli smashes 49-ball 77 to help Bengaluru chase down PBKS’s total of 176 with four wickets to spare.

In their second match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 on Monday, Royal Challengers Bengaluru conceded the exact same number of runs they did in their first game: 176. While Chennai Super Kings had completed a successful run-chase against them, this time it was RCB who got over the line against Punjab Kings on the back of a Virat Kohli special.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter Virat Kohli celebrates his fifty (PTI)

With PBKS winning their first match of the season against Delhi Capitals, the spotlight was on the hosts to bounce back at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Opting to bowl first, Mohammed Siraj (2/26) and Yash Dayal (1/23) delivered standout spells as PBKS finished with 176/6. Kohli took over from there to hit a 49-ball 77 before a final push by Dinesh Karthik and Mahipal Lomror took RCB to 178/6 in 19.2 overs. It was the sixth victory in as many games for the home team this season.

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It could’ve been a different story for Punjab had they grabbed an early opportunity. Sam Curran managed to get Kohli’s outside edge off the second delivery of the innings but the ball went through Jonny Bairstow’s hands at second slip. Kohli, who made a 20-ball 21 against CSK after taking a two-month break from competitive cricket, was close to his best thereafter.

The former India and RCB skipper put on a cover-driving masterclass in the first half of his innings. What stood out was the way he kept stepping out against pacers to strike the ball early with momentum. Kagiso Rabada bowled a fine opening spell and got the wickets of RCB skipper Fat du Plessis and Cameron Green, before Kohli got another reprieve as Rahul Chahar couldn’t hold on to a tough chance at mid-wicket. But the 35-year-old kept trying to attack and took RCB to 85/2 at the halfway mark of their innings.

Needing 92 to win off 10 overs with eight wickets in hand, the hosts had the upper hand. However, that’s when Harpreet Brar returned to the attack and bowled an inspired spell to bring Punjab back in the contest. The left-arm spinner removed Rajat Patidar and Glenn Maxwell (for the fourth time) to finish with figures of 2/13.

Kohli became the third player after Chris Gayle and David Warner to register 100 half-centuries in T20 cricket, but he and Anuj Rawat fell in quick succession and RCB were left needing 47 off 22 balls. Even as Punjab would’ve fancied their chances, though, Karthik (28* off 10) and Lomror (17* off 8) remained composed to seal the win with four balls to spare.

Dayal impresses

Bengaluru has always been a high-scoring venue, with the average first innings total last season at the Chinnaswamy being 196. This time there was a slightly different look to the pitch as it had patches of grass all over it, with Yash Dayal making good use of the carry on offer. The left-arm pacer conceded just 10 runs in his three overs with the new ball to help restrict PBKS to 40/1 at the end of the powerplay.

Siraj got the first breakthrough for RCB as Bairstow registered another single-digit score. The English right-hander attempted a half-hearted pull and got a top edge to Virat Kohli, who overtook Suresh Raina for the most catches (173) by an Indian in T20 cricket.

Prabhsimran Singh then joined skipper Shikhar Dhawan at the crease and it was the former who helped PBKS up the ante. The duo added 53 runs before the visitors lost their next three wickets for 26 runs. Prabhsimran perished to a Glenn Maxwell delivery that shot up before Liam Livingstone edged one from Alzarri Joseph.

But perhaps the more disappointing dismissal for the Kings was that of Dhawan (45 off 37). The left-hander never really looked fluent and became Maxwell’s second victim just when he would’ve hoped to start accelerating.

Curran, who scored a match-winning half-century in the previous game, and keeper-batter Jitesh Sharma also fell in the twenties as the RCB bowlers did well to keep chipping away. It came down to a late flourish by Shashank Singh to set up a challenging target for the hosts. The right-hander hit Joseph for two sixes and a four as PBKS added 20 runs in the last over of the innings.

However, Curran admitted soon after that it was probably a slightly under-par total. His assessment proved to be spot on eventually.


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