Bangalore Win Grudge Match With Lucknow

Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis, the Royal Challengers Bangalore openers, rode on experience to string together the most critical partnership in a low-scoring Tata Indian Premier League game at the Atal Behari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in Lucknow on Tuesday. In a match that the visiting side won by 18 runs, their 62-run stand was the deciding factor on a sluggish track.

Grudge match polar opposite of first encounter

It was a grudge match alright. The teams produced a humdinger when they clashed in Bengaluru on April 10, with Lucknow Super Giants escaping to a one-wicket victory with a stolen bye off the last ball. That was a high-scoring battle, producing 425 runs in 40 overs, while Monday night saw a low-scoring thriller where Bangalore repaid the home side in kind.

Of course, the pitch held centre stage, with its low bounce coming to the fore. Lucknow fed Bangalore a diet of spin bowling, with Ravi Bishnoi and Amit Mishra delivering different brands of wrist spin after Krunal Pandya had bowled two smart overs of left-arm spin with the new ball. And there was K Gowtham’s off-break bowling to use as well.

With a clear vision of how the track would behave after the powerplay, Kohli and du Plessis picked up 23 runs from an over each from Marcus Stoinis and Naveen-ul-Haq. It was not a stage for attractive strokeplay, and demanded a smarter approach based on knocking the ball around and running hard.

Bangalore undone by spin

Bishnoi’s battle with Kohli made for interesting viewing. Bishnoi cramped Kohli by attacking his pads. He then bowled a teasing googly wide of the off stump to beat Kohli’s dance down the track and set up a stumping by Nicholas Pooran. Kohli contributed 31 (30 balls, three fours) of the 62-run partnership with du Plessis, the captain, in 9 overs.

The fall of Anuj Rawat and Glenn Maxwell attempting brazen strokes early in their ventures was an indication of the sign of things to come. Rawat, a left-hand batter, was outsmarted by Gowtham with a line of attack that caused a slog to the man on the midwicket fence, while Maxwell was leg before wicket to Bishnoi when playing a grand reverse-sweep.

Smart fielding keeps Bangalore to 126

Pandya’s athleticism to dismiss du Plessis (44, 40 balls, one four, one six) came in the way of Bangalore posting a 140-150 total. He sprinted a fair distance to get his hands under a skyer when du Plessis sought to latch on to the width offered by Mishra, and was done in by the extra turn.

Dinesh Karthik’s unhappy season with the bat continued, as he scored 16 off 11 and was run out at the non-striker’s end after he had backed up too far when Wanindu Hasaranga played Yash Thakur back. Thakur picked up the ball, swiveled and delivered a direct hit to send Karthik back to the hut.

A Hasaranga four off the last delivery saw Royal Challengers sneak past their lowest total of the season, 123 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Since the Gujarat Titans defended a total of 135 in the previous game at this venue, Bangalore fancied their chances of turning the tables on their hosts.

Pandya, who led the team in KL Rahul’s absence after the captain suffered a thigh-muscle injury in the second over, marshalled his resources well. Of the faster bowlers, he backed Naveen to bowl his quota of four. The Afghan star rewarded him with three for 30, claiming his victims in the 18th and 20th overs as Bangalore slid into the abyss.

Watch Video: Kohli-Gambhir Needle Plays Out in Background of RCB Win

Rahul’s anchor role sorely missed

However, on a night when Lucknow badly needed a typical holding effort from Rahul during the chase of 127, he was rendered hors-de-combat by the injury. With Bangalore piling on the pressure, Lucknow sorely missed a batter who could pilot the chase calmly.

Of course, in what could be seen as a brave effort, he hobbled in when the ninth wicket fell, with the team needing 24 off eight deliveries to secure two points. But it was more because Lucknow had already used Ayush Badoni as the Impact Player Substitute at the top of the order, and they needed to attempt to reduce the margin of defeat with an eye on the net run rate.

Lucknow’s gung-ho approach falls flat

Lucknow did not learn their lessons from Bangalore’s implosion from 75 for one in the 12th over. Their batters believed they could hit their way to victory, overlooking the fact that Bangalore had got only eight boundaries, including two sixes. Lucknow paid the price for not altering their approach, playing out 64 dot balls as against the 38 that Bangalore had failed to score off.

From the first over sent down by Mohammed Siraj, it was evident that Bangalore were going to make the home batters work hard for every run. He inflicted a second-ball dismissal on Kyle Mayers. A great over from the other end by Josh Hazlewood to Badoni made the target seem bigger than it was.

Pandya, who stroked three fours in Siraj’s second over, was foxed by the drift that Glenn Maxwell got and chipped a simple catch to Kohli at long-off. Badoni tested Kohli a bit more in the next over from Hazlewood with a drive on the up. Kohli leapt at the opportunity and intercepted the full-blooded drive with both hands.

Hasaranga and Karn Sharma, the other leg-spinner, tightened the stranglehold, with Karn claiming the scalps of the big-stroking Pooran (caught on the midwicket fence) and Stoinis (caught at long-off). The spin twins bowled impeccably to ensure that Lucknow had no chance at all of making a match of it.

Delhi boys add another chapter to ugly tale

Just as the batting in the game did not make for attractive viewing., visuals of an angry Gautam Gambhir, the Lucknow Super Giants mentor, and Kohli adding another chapter to their long-standing tale were not in great taste either.

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