Axar Patel's lion-hearted all- round effort helped Kings XI Punjab stay in the hunt for a play-off berth with a resounding 19-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in an IPL encounter, in Bengaluru on Friday.
First, the India dsicard smashed his way to an unbeaten 38 off 17 balls as Kings XI Punjab managed 138 for 7 and then grabbed 3/11 in in 3 overs with RCB skittled out for 119 in 19 overs. This was the lowest total defended by a team at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and also the first time in 10 editions that RCB has been bowled out four times.
New ball bowler Sandeep Sharma (3/22 in 4 overs) played a big role blowing away the top-order to set up the win. Mohit Sharma (2/24), Axar, Glenn Maxwell (2/14) all played their parts to perfection in KXIP's fifth win of the season. Kings XI Punjab now has 10 points from 10 games while RCB after their ninth defeat in 12 matches stay at the bottom on five points.
With confidence torn to shreds and self belief in tatters, RCB looked like a rag-tag unit with no stomach for a fight. It seemed as if the team is just turning up to complete formalities. Sandeep gave an exhibition of controlled swing bowling to get the 'Big Three' Chris Gayle (0), Virat Kohli (6) and AB de Villiers (10) quickly. He is the first bowler in IPL history to knock off the terrific trio in the same match.
Gayle got one that swung away as he slashed it straight to point. Kohli gave the charge to a delivery that swung back into knock the leg stump back. De Villiers pulled Sandeep to the mid-wicket stands but bowled a full outswinger which was edged to Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps. Kedar Jadhav (6) hit a boundary but Mohit Sharma fooled him with a change of pace as a simple catch was taken by Axar Patel at short cover.
After his good hand with the bat, Axar was back in thick of things removing Shane Watson (3) caught by Wriddhiman. Mandeep Singh (46), who finally got some runs was lone man fighting for RCB but an innocuous delivery from rival skipper Glenn Maxwell saw him try an atrocious cross-batted shot to get bowled. At 73 for 6, the game was all over for the RCB with no chance whatsoever of making a comeback.
Earlier, Axar's lusty blows enabled Kings XI Punjab reach a respectable 138 for 7 on a difficult track. Axar hit three fours and two sixes with 19 runs off the 20th over bowled by Shane Watson (1/43 in 4 overs) helped KXIP reach closer to 140 -- something that looked impossible after 19 overs. On a slow Chinnaswamy track, none of the Kings XI Punjab batsmen save Axar looked comfortable with run-scoring being an arduous job. The normally flamboyant Manan Vohra (25, 28 balls) also played a subdued knock hitting a six and a four.
Wriddhiman Saha, India's 'Test wicketkeeper' played like a longer-format specialist trying to drop anchor during his painstaking 21 off 25 balls. He looked completely out-of-sorts as it has been the case with him throughout the IPL. It was Patel coming in at No 7, who gave the innings some sort of impetus during the end overs with his lovely cameo.
Left-arm pacer Aniket Chaudhary (2/17 in 4 overs) gave RCB breakthrough in the very first over when Hashim Amla (1) got a faintest of an edge to be snapped by Kedar Jadhav behind the stumps. Martin Guptill (9) was done in by the slowish track as he sliced Sreenath Aravind (1/13 in 2 overs) to Pawan Negi stationed at sweeper cover. Shaun Marsh (20) looked elegant during his short stay but trying to hoick Negi (1/21 in 3 overs) over long-off saw him offer Mandeep Singh a simple catch. Vohra played a slog-sweep off Negi effectively, hitting him for a six before trying to repeat the same shot off Yuzvendra Chahal (2/21 in 4 overs). He was holed out at long- on by AB de Villiers.
Skipper Maxwell's (6) horrendous run with the bat continued as he tried a reverse sweep only to be caught at short third-man. At 78 for 5, the Saha-Patel pair stemmed the rot partially with a 34-run stand but could never really get going.