Kohli stars as RCB ease past Royals

Virat Kohli returned to form in superb style as Royal Challengers Bangalore recorded an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals to move top of the IPL standings in Abu Dhabi.

There was huge incentive for both sides with the winner assured of top spot for a few hours at least, but the Royals were punished for a below-par display as RCB claimed their second straight victory.

They were set a modest target of 155 after Rajasthan’s top-order toiled in sweltering conditions and Royal Challengers Bangalore were always in control, as Kohli (72* off 53) starred with the bat to steer his side home with five balls to spare.

The India captain endured a tough start to the campaign – making 18 runs from his opening three innings – but he reaffirmed the adage that class is permanent with a brilliantly compiled knock.

Kohli was complemented superbly by rising star Devdutt Padikkal (63 off 45), who made his third fifty of the tournament, whilst Yuzvendra Chahal (3-24) was the standout performer with the ball for RCB as he moved joint top of the wicket-taking standings.

Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bat, a decision that appeared to be vindicated when Jos Buttler made a blistering start to proceedings.

Buttler (22 off 12) is yet to fire in this year’s competition but he underlined his intent with a flurry of boundaries inside the opening three overs. However, the pendulum swung dramatically as the Royals lost their three key batsmen during a frenetic nine-ball spell.

Smith (5) was left to rue an inside edge after being bowled by Isuru Udana (2-41 from 4), before Buttler succumbed to Navdeep Saini (1-37 from 4) following a terrific slip catch from Padikkal.

The Royals’ woes were compounded when Chahal (3-24) removed in-form Sanju Samson with his very first delivery and having made an electric start, the Royals were suddenly floundering at 33-3.

It was a frustrating day for England duo Buttler and Curran

Robin Uthappa and Mahipal Lomror were tasked with leading the Royals’ recovery but Uthappa (17) struggled throughout and his stay of execution came to a halt in the 11th over, as he sliced Chahal to long-off.

Riyan Parag (16) was also unable to break the shackles, but Lomror (47) began to up the ante, hitting Chahal for two huge sixes over mid-wicket, only for the spinner to gain revenge and dismiss the impressive 20-year-old three runs short of his maiden IPL fifty.

Rahul Tewatia (24* off 12) – fresh from his heroics against Kings XI last weekend – played a crucial cameo, blasting three huge sixes to take his tournament tally into double figures, combining with Archer (16* off 10) to salvage the Royals innings.

Rajasthan have struggled in the powerplay overs with the ball – claiming just the solitary wicket from the opening six overs across the entire tournament, although Shreyas Gopal (1-27 from 4) made an early breakthrough, trapping Aaron Finch (8) LBW after an excellent review.

However, the Royals were thwarted by an excellent partnership between Padikkal and Kohli, who put on 99 for the second-wicket to move Royal Challengers Bangalore to the brink of victory.

Padikkal continued his fine form and was the aggressor in the early stages of their partnership, becoming the first player in this year’s competition to register a third fifty.

The 20-year-old combined some sensational timing with brutal hitting to pile on the pain for the Royals, but he was unable to complete the job, with Archer (1-18 from 4) obliterating the stumps with a perfectly-executed yorker.

Kohli made a measured start to his innings with RCB consistently scoring above the required run-rate, but he went through the gears magnificently in the latter stages, blasting 7 fours and 2 enormous sixes, including a delightful maximum down the ground.

Padikkal’s wicket brought the Royals little respite as AB de Villiers (12* off 10) came to the crease, and the experienced duo of Kohli and De Villiers wrapped up the victory in comprehensive fashion.

The pair ran superbly between the wickets and punished some lethargic fielding from the Royals to leave them requiring just one run from the final over, before De Villiers sealed the deal by hitting Tom Curran through mid-wicket for a boundary.

Source : Sky Sports