Faf du Plessis played a special knock despite a rib injury before Mohammed Siraj produced his best figures in the IPL to set up a 24-run win for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Punjab Kings on Thursday. Playing as an ‘Impact Player’ due to his injury, Du Plessis plundered 84 off 56 balls and shared a 137-run opening wicket stand with stand-in captain Virat Kohli (59 off 47) to steer RCB to 174 for four after being put in to bat.
Though in-form skipper Shikhar Dhawan was unavailable for the second game in a row, Punjab had enough firepower to chase down 175 but lost too many wickets at the start of the chase.
Siraj delivered with wickets with the new ball as well as in the death overs to end up with 4/21 in four overs and secure a welcome victory for his team. Jitesh Sharma’s counter-attacking 41 off 27 for Punjab went in vain.
It was RCB’s third win in six games while Punjab suffered their third loss in six matches.
Siraj was too hot to handle in the powerplay as he removed left-hander Atharva Taide with a sharp inswinger off the second ball of the innings before removing the dangerous Liam Livingstone in the fourth over. Both lbw dismissals came after successful DRS reviews.
Wanindu Hasaranga then castled Matthew Short with a googly before run-outs of Sam Curran and Harpreet Bhatia made matters worse for the home team.
At 97 for six, the game looked done and dusted but Jitesh Sharma kept Punjab in the game with some clean hitting, especially down the ground. He ran out of partners eventually.
Earlier, at 91 for no loss in 10 overs, RCB were on course for 200 plus total but Punjab bowled well in the middle and death overs to restrict the opposition.
Du Plessis hammered five sixes and as many fours in his belligerent knock. Like he often does, the former South Africa skipper was not afraid to show his stumps to the spinners to free his arms for the big shots.
Kohli made 59 off 47 balls though the first half of his innings was more fluent.
It was the fourth fifty plus score for the RCB openers this season, highlighting their consistency.
RCB would be a tad disappointment with the total they ended up with after a flying start from du Plessis and Kohli, who fired their team to 59 for no loss in the powerplay.
Arshdeep Singh and Curran employed the short-ball tactic against du Plessis and Kohli with the new ball but it did not work.
The Indian star began with his trademark cover drive off spinner Harpreet Brar before pulling a short ball from Arshdeep over short fine leg for another four in the third over.
Du Plessis got going with a couple of sixes off Brar, who opened the bowling alongside Arshdeep.
The South African made room for a massive straight six over Brar’s head and followed it up with another one wide of long on. However, his best of the lot was the straight six off pacer Nathan Ellis as he stood sill to slap it over the bowler’s head.
RCB could only manage 83 runs off the last 60 balls. Rahul Chahar and Sam Curran could not take wickets but did not allow the batters to break free.
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