All this while the story for Royal Challengers Bangalore had been about Chris Gayle and his storms. They were longing for the outfit to come up with a solid all-round performance with the bat. Their prayers were finally answered on Thursday, at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune against hosts Pune Warriors. Most of their batsmen registered decent scores, and that too while maintaining a high strike rate. Bangalore were effective with the ball too, with only Robin Uthappa standing up to the challenge as far as Pune were concerned.
The star with the bat for Bangalore undoubtedly was AB de Villiers, whose blistering made the difference between a competitive and match-winning total. The South Africa ODI skipper struck the ball as cleanly as he has done in the edition so far. During the course of his innings, he played some highly outrageous strokes as well signifying that he was high on confidence. Had de Villiers not come up with those smashing shots towards the end, Pune might well have ran Bangalore closer, especially considering they did flourish during one brief partnership, which reduced the victory margin significantly.
While de Villiers was brilliant no doubt, his task was made easier by the fact that Bangalore already had a cushion of a bright start behind them when he walked out into the middle. Chris Gayle had an off-day for a change, but hung around to give Bangalore a steady opening. Sauarbh Tiwary, the other opener in his game, was the one who held the innings together following Gayle’s untimely dismissal. While Tiwary himself did not hit the big shots, he gave the batsmen coming in the opportunity to play freely. This is what, first Virat Kohli, and later de Villiers exploited to the maximum.
Bowling wise, there was nothing much for Pune to be pleased about. Ahsok Dinda was terrible once again, conceding 13 runs an over while bowling his full quota. One wonders why Pune keep picking him in spite of his affinity to leak so many runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajantha Mendis were steady but couldn’t provide the breakthroughs. As for Rahul Sharma and Angelo Mathews, they went for a few too many whilst also not looking very efficient. Even the experiment of trying out Yuvraj Singh was a failure. Overall, it was a poor bowling effort by Pune.
If their bowling was below par, Pune’s batting was equally dejecting. They needed a fiery partnership at the top, but kept losing wickets at regular intervals, as a result of which they were never in the hunt. The only flicker of hope came when Robin Uthappa and Angelo Mathews combined in an exorbitant counter-attack. It did not last too long to bring Pune out of trouble. Following Mathews’ dismissal, Uthappa continuing holding fort for the side. But, sometimes individual brilliance is not enough even in T20 cricket.
Turning point of the game: Mathews’ dismissal for 32, which ended Pune’s brief onslaught on Bangalore.