IPL: De Villiers pulls RCB to 175/6 against Punjab

Mohali, May 9 (IANS) South African run-machine AB de Villiers hit a crucially-timed knock of 64 runs to guide Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to a healthy 175/6 against Kings XI Punjab in a Indian Premier League (IPL) group phase match here on Monday.

De Villiers was helped in his efforts by Sachin Baby (33 off 29 balls) at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium. Their fourth-wicket partnership of 88 runs from 55 balls found the cornerstone of RCB’s strong total.

For Punjab, legbreak bowler K.C. Cariappa picked up two wickets at the top of the innings (2/16) to become their most successful bowler.

RCB began strongly, putting up 56 in the powerplay without losing a wicket.

Openers K.L. Rahul (42) and Virat Kohli (20) batted with consummate ease mixing ones and twos with boundaries to score at a fast clip.

Punjab got a chance to break the momentum early, in the third over when Kohli offered a chance after coming down the track to pacer Mohit Sharma.

Kohli only managed to slice his attempt to backward point where Marcus Stoinis made a hash of the chance.

Rahul was the chief aggressor and added insult to Stoinis’s injury by smashing three fours and a huge six of the Australian in the next over.

RCB were moving along nicely and looked like setting up a strong platform for a big score, reaching 61 in seven overs.

But the introduction of leg-break bowler K.C. Cariappa halted RCB’s march. He effected a double break in his very first over, off the third and the fifth ball, to account for Rahul and Kohli, respectively.

Rahul’s slog sweep attempt resultedin him getting bowled while Kohli played away from his body to offer a catch at short cover. Rahul smashed six boundaries and a six during his 25-ball innings.

Punjab completed a turnaround in the next over with left-arm spinner Axar Patel castling Australian Shane batsman Shane Watson (1) to reduce RCB to 67/3 in nine overs.

The rhythm was snapped, the run-rate dropped, and RCB needed all of de Villiers’ experience to pull them up.

De Villers along with Baby guided the team past the 100-run mark in the 14th over.

He launched himself into some free-hitting, carting Sandeep Sharma for a four and a six in the 16th over. Mohit Sharma also received some rough treatment as de Villiers brough up his half-century in 30 balls.

De Villiers customarily hit at least a boundary a six off three consecutive overs from the 15th over, till his dismissal in the 18th, to shoot up his team to 155.

De Villers’ 35-ball knock contained five hits to the fence and two over it. He ensured that the team reached a defendable total.

Earlier, Punjab captain Murali Vijay won the toss and chose to bowl against RCB.

Punjab made two changes to the side that beat Delhi Daredevils in their previous game. South Africa all-rounder Farhaan Behardien and seamer Anureet Singh were named in for Glenn Maxwell and Gurkeerat Singh.

Behardien made his IPL debut.

Brief scores: RCB (175/6 AB de Villiers 64, Sachin Baby 33, K.C. Cariappa 2/16, Sandeep Sharma 2/49).

–IANS

sam/dg

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