Kings XI Punjab 206 for 3 (Rahul 132) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 109 (M Ashwin 3-21, Bishnoi 3-32) by 97 runs
An expertly paced 132 not out of 69 balls from KL Rahul – the highest score by an Indian in the IPL and fourth highest overall – formed the centerpiece of the Kings XI Punjab’s 206 for 3, as they flattened the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Dubai.
After raising his first fifty off 36 balls, Rahul zipped away to his second off a mere 26 balls. Along the way, he was reprieved twice in the outfield by Virat Kohli in the 17th and 18th overs. After that second drop, Rahul tore into Dale Steyn and Shivam Dube at the death, cracking 42 off nine balls.
Facing a steep target, the Royal Challengers rejigged their batting line-up by bumping rookie Josh Phillipe to No. 3, but they crashed to 4 for 3 and then 57 for 5. After left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell bounced out Devdutt Padikkal and Kohli for 1 each, Kings XI’s twin legspinners Ravi Bishnoi and M Ashwin exploited a right-hander heavy Royal Challengers line-up to skittle them for 109 in 17 overs.
Profligate RCB, prolific Kings XI
On a fresh, true pitch, Umesh Yadav allowed Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to ease themselves in by bowling looseners down the leg side. At the other end, Steyn pushed the ball wide of off and gave up back-to-back to fours to Rahul in the second over of the match. Then, when first-change Navdeep Saini offered a wide full-toss, Agarwal creamed it through extra-cover as the Kings XI surged to 50 for 0 in six overs.
Enter Yuzvendra Chahal. Exit Agarwal. The spinner unleashed a quicker wrong ‘un and stormed through the defences of Agarwal to trigger a brief slowdown along with offspinner Washington Sundar. After managing just 11 off 13 balls against the spinners, Nicholas Pooran attempted to line up seam-bowling allrounder Dube, but instead he holed out for 17 off 18 balls.
The return of Yadav and Saini, however, loosened the spinners’ grip. Another freebie on the pads, another overpitched delivery outside off meant Rahul could pick up the pace.
Rahul hits top gear
After a productive powerplay, ESPNcricinfo’s forecaster reckoned that the Kings XI would finish with 180. Such a tall total seemed unlikely when Dube also tricked Glenn Maxwell with an offcutter, but Rahul, aided by the two drops, ensured his side breached 200.
He went 6,4,6,6,4 against Steyn and 4,6,6 against Dube to cap the innings for Kings XI and snatch the orange cap – reserved for the tournament’s leading run-scorer – for himself. All up, Kings XI pillaged 74 off their last four overs. Dube had plucked out an injured Mitchell Marsh at the death in the Royal Challengers’ opening win, but, perhaps, it wasn’t a wise option to use him again during this phase, especially against a rampaging Rahul. Saini, who can bowl yorkers at speeds upwards of 140kph and also cut his pace down, ultimately bowled just one over at the death while Sundar sent down only two overs overall for 13 runs.
(Leg)spin to win
If the Royal Challengers were to have a proper crack at 207, they needed a strong start from their top order. However, it was not to be, with Cottrell striking twice in his first two overs. The promoted Phillipe shuffled across and missed a straight one before Aaron Finch and AB de Villiers threatened a comeback. Finch kept jumping outside leg to throw Bishnoi off his lines and lengths, but the 20-year-old held his own and knocked him over with a slider. Rahul then matched up Ashwin with de Villiers and had him carving a catch to sweeper cover for 28 off 18 balls. Finch and de Villiers aside, Sundar (30) was the only other Royal Challengers batsman to pass 15 as their middle and lower order came into sharp focus once again. Ashwin and Bishnoi came away with three wickets each, applying the finishing touches.