It has been mentioned numerous times this season that Royal Challengers Bangalore have the most destructive batting line-up in the Indian Premier League, just like Sunrisers Hyderabad have the most effective bowling outfit in the competition. But, everything time we think Bangalore's batsmen have pulled off something spectacular, they keep bettering the brilliance. Wednesday's match against the wretched Kings XI Punjab at Bangalore was another addition to RCB's batting feast. The lengthy rain delay may hav caused flutters in the team, but they did not show any when they came out to bat.
As always, Virat Kohli was again the man Bangalore were looking up to. And, yet again, he did not disappoint. In fact, he only continued to keep the bowlers in awe of him. Four centuries in one IPL season is not something players can actually dream of. But, Kohli is someone who has the supreme self-belief that he can score a hundred every times he goes out to the middle. While Kohli's hundred against an uninspired Punjab bowling was least surprising, what made the ton extra special was the fact that Kohli achieved three figures even after the number of stitches he had taken on the hand.
Even as Kohli alone can be a handful for the opposition, there was double trouble for Punjab's bowlers as Chris Gayle also sought inspiration from Kohli, and came up with a murderous innings of his own. Both Kohli and Gayle displayed supreme big-hitting prowess against Punjab, and the bowlers were pretty much clueless on most of the occasions, in fact it wouldn't be wrong to say for the duration of their stay in the field. The knock was an important one for Gayle as, if RCB manage to make it to the final four, and there are high chances they will, the team will need the West Indian great to be in full flow.
What RCB have done very well in the last few games, apart from winning, is that they have achieved victories by big margins, as a result giving a much-needed boost to their overall net run-rate, which could come in handy toward the end, as the criteria for qualification gets clearer. In the last three games, they have thrashed Gujarat Lions by 144 runs, Kolkata Knight Riders by 9 wickets and now Kings XI Punjab by 82 runs via the D/L method. In the current scenario, a win in the final league game with assure their qualification, but even a loss will keep them in the hunt, thanks to their recent heroics.
Punjab will not take much out of the game, apart from further embarrassment. Their bowlers were treated like club players, with Kyle Abbott, Axar Patel and KC Cariappa conceding between 15 to 18 runs per over. What Punjab did manage though was to give Bangalore's bowlers some much-needed confidence with a lacklustre batting effort. They were never expected to chase the total, but their batting performance was still pathetic. As a result, Yuzvendra Chahal helped himself to 4 for 25 while Shane Watson claimed 2 for 7. What began as a gloomy prospect for RCB ended up in the perfect game.
--By A Cricket Analyst