A scintillating cameo of 22 from 8 balls by Robin Uthappa and a mature, unbeaten 66 by Kevin Pietersen was equally well aided by some atrocious fielding by Kings XI Punjab in front of their home crowd as the Royal Challengers Bangalore resurrected themselves in IPL 3 after a couple of disappointing losses.
Chasing 182, Bangalore batted smartly right throughout and despite the loss of some crucial wickets, got home safely by six wickets in the end. That said, this is a game Punjab should have won and have only themselves to blame for ending up on the wrong side yet again.
A number of fielders, skipper Kumar Sangakkara included, dropped what were sitters by international standards. To add insult to injury, Uthappa blasted speedster Brett Lee for two mighty sixes and a four at a time when Punjab were on top. 25 runs came off the over and the momentum had clearly swung the other way.
Earlier in the evening, the Punjab batters put up a rather impressive performance with bat to give their team some hope of winning their second game.
The innings was build around three equally significant contributions, the first of those came from the captain Sangakkara himself. Punjab had lost Shaun Marsh early to Vinay Kumar and needed to overcome the hiccup soon. Sangakkara proved to be the man, taking on the bowlers. He crunched eight boundaries and found good support in Manvinder Bisla, who contributed a useful 26 with the help of four fours before falling prey to the guile of Anil Kumble.
After Bisla’s dismissal, Punjab required Sangakkara to carry on. But, unfortunately for the struggling side, it wasn’t to be. While on 45 he tried to take on Dale Steyn and only managed to find the safe hands of Kallis in the deep. Sangakkara’s knock, coming off just 27 deliveries was highly attractive.
However, following his departure, Punjab desperately needed another partnership. And, that came in the form of the one between Ravi Bopara and Yuvraj Singh.
Following everything written in the papers regarding his differences with Sangakkara and the team management, Yuvraj must have been raring to prove a point. And that was evident in his strokeplay today. He lofted Kumble and Jacques Kallis into the stands and, in between, hit three powerful boundaries. But, like Sangakkara, he too perished without finishing off the job, caught by Cameron White off Kallis’ bowling.
Still Bopara’s steady batting and a couple of lofty hits by Irfan Pathan enabled Punjab to reach 181, a highly competitive score on a pitch that was going to slow down.
Punjab did not get off to a great start with the ball, thanks to another wayward effort by the disappointing S Sreesanth, who went on to drop the easiest of catches later in the game. They were lucky though as Shalabh Srivastava once again got his act right and sent back orange cap holder Kallis cheaply, getting him to edge an outswinger.
Manish Pandey (29) kept the runs flowing a steady rate until his unfortunate run-out. For most part though, Punjab continued to hold the ascendancy. Despite a good partnership between Virat Kohli and Pietersen, the run-rate had climbed to 12. But, one poor over from Lee and some unacceptably bad fielding from did them in.
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