IPL 2021: RCB secure berth in playoffs with two games to spare

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Glenn Maxwell plays a shot against the Punjab Kings in Sharjah on Sunday. —BCCI
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Glenn Maxwell plays a shot against the Punjab Kings in Sharjah on Sunday. —BCCI

Dubai - Virat Kohli's side get the better of Punjab Kings by six runs

By Agencies

Published: Sun 3 Oct 2021, 8:32 PM

Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Punjab Kings by six runs in a thrilling clash Sunday to secure their place in the Indian Premier League playoffs.

Glenn Maxwell hit 57 off 33 balls and Devdutt Padikkal 40 as Bangalore made 164 for seven from their 20 overs in Sharjah.

Punjab fell short despite Mayank Agarwal’s 57 and captain KL Rahul’s 39. The opening pair put on 91 for the first wicket and Punjab seemed on target for an upset win.

But spinner Yuzvendra Chahal took three key wickets — Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran and Sarfaraz Khan, for a golden duck — at a cost of just 29 runs to give Bangalore the advantage.

Punjab needed 27 off the last two overs but bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Harshal Patel kept big hitter Moises Henriques in check as they gave away just 20.

Bangalore, who have yet to win the title, go into the last four with Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals. Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals have already made it to the last four with 18 points each. Bangalore joined the top two and has 16 points. All three teams still have two league games to play.

Kohli said this tournament had seen an “amazing” resurgence by his side. Bangalore have not reached the playoffs with games to spare in the past decade.

“After 2011, we haven’t done it with games to spare. Eight wins out of 12 games is a great campaign. We have two more opportunities to finish in the top two. It should give us motivation to play even more fearlessly,” Kohli told the host broadcaster.

“When you don’t have any wickets on the scoreboard, you can take more risks, which myself and Dev (Padikkal) have to. About 15-20 runs on this ground can be crucial. We have to plug those areas. As a side, we have had an endeavour to improve, whether in losses or wins. We knew the wicket would get slower and slower. KL and Mayank batted really well, but we knew we were just two wickets from coming back into the game. Kohli was also delighted with the way his bowlers have fared. The resurgence of (Mohammed) Siraj, ever since he has done well in Test cricket. Harshal’s (Patel) inclusion has been outstanding. Yuzi (Yuzvendra Chahal) has chipped in, as has Shahbaz (Ahmed). (George) Garton has come in. If the players don’t step up, then the campaign goes off track,” he added.

Meanwhile, Maxwell, who was adjudged the Man of the Match, said: “I feel like the last two years of IPL I have batted nicely. To have it set up by the openers today gave us some time to get an idea of the wicket. Coming into RCB, they wanted me to do the exact same role (as with Australia). This (Sharjah) is probably the most difficult to adjust to. The spinners get it to skid on which means you have to be sharper at the start of your innings.”

The defeat pushed Punjab into a very tight corner with 10 points after 13 games. They need to win their last league game against strong opponents Chennai, on Thursday but also require results of other games to go its way.

“If I have to be honest, our batting has let us down,” Rahul said. “In T20, the top two or three do score the bulk of the runs . but we have missed someone in the middle who scores those 30-40 quick runs.” — Agencies

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