BENGALURU, April 24: Navdeep Saini’s fabulous penultimate over kept Royal Challengers Bangalore afloat as they beat Kings XI Punjab by 17 runs in an Indian Premier League encounter here on Wednesday.
AB de Villiers’ unbeaten 82 off 44 balls took RCB to a healthy 202 for 4 and things could have gone awry with young Nicholas Pooran (46 off 28 balls) hitting five sixes at the rear before Saini sealed it in the 19th over. Kings XI Punjab finished at 185 for 7 as RCB are now on eight points with three games left. Needing 30 off the last two, Saini (2/33), who is one of India’s fastest bowlers produced a hostile over in which he removed the dangerous David Miller and Pooran but more importantly gave away only three runs.
Saini bowled fast and into the body of the batsmen, who couldn’t really get going and his aggression became the defining factor in the end.
Defending 27 runs off the final over, Umesh Yadav (3/33) was better than the other night against CSK as he got a couple of wickets. With four wins in the last five games, RCB will hope to win the remaining three and expect a few favourable result to make it to the play-offs as rank outsiders.
Kings XI Punjab started the chase in earnest as KL Rahul (42 off 27 balls) and Chris Gayle (23 off 10 balls) added 42 in less than four overs to set the ball rolling. Mayank Agarwal (35 off 21 balls) continued the flurry of fours during his 59-run stand with Rahul. Earlier, AB de Villiers’ scintillating half century and a 121-run stand with Marcus Stoinis propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to 202 for four after being put into bat. Sent into bat, De Villiers scored a brilliant unbeaten 82 off 44 balls with three fours and seven sixes, while Stoinis hammered 46 off 34 balls with two fours and three sixes.
Brief scores: RCB 202/4 (AB de Villiers 82 off 44 balls, R Ashwin 1/15). KXIP 185/7 (Nicholas Pooran 46 off 28 balls, Umesh Yadav 3/33, Navdeep Saini 2/33). – PTI