A scintillating innings by Jacques Kallis (89 from 55 balls) and a whirlwind half-century by Robin Uthappa (51) helped Royal Challengers Bangalore overhaul a stiff target of 204 set by Kings XI Punjab. For Bangalore to remain in the hunt during the chase, they needed a speedy start without losing too many wickets.
Openers Manish Pandey (38) and Kallis scripted the Bangalore reply perfectly. Pandey was especially severe at the top of the order, taking on S. Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan successfully even as the experienced Kallis was prepared to bide his time by and watch the action from the other end. Sreesanth and Irfan made the mistake of bowling either short or on a length, giving the young Pandey enough opportunities to swing his bat around. Left-arm pacer Yusuf Abdulla also did not fare any better, feeling the pressure.
The Bangalore openers added 74 very quickly and Kumar Sangakkara was forced to turn to spin in an effort to break the deadly partnership. Piyush Chawla eventually did the trick for Punjab. Pandey went for a mighty heave against the impressive leggie and only managed to end up hitting one straight in the air. Irfan Pathan, who dropped a skier in the previous game, managed to hang on to this offering rather easily. However, if Punjab though they could heave a sense of relief, they were absolutely wrong.
In walked India discard Robin Uthappa and took full advantage of the great platform set. Uthappa was in only for 21 deliveries, but by the time he left, he had more or less sealed the fate of the game. The ultra-talented Uthappa did not slog his way around. Instead, he tried to hit as straight as possible and was rewarded rather fruitfully. In Sreesanth’s comeback over, he slammed the bowler for three monstrous sixes, turning the tide of the game in Bangalore favour.
He eventually to debutant left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma fell going another big shot on the off side. But, not before ensuring that the run-rate was well within the home side’s grasp.
The best innings of the game was yet to be played though. Kallis, who was quiet all this while, suddenly went into overdrive mode and finished off the game in whisker. He was extremely severe on Sharma, who was rather economical until that point, slamming him for three huge sixes in one over.
Later, Abdulla who was recalled also went for a few boundaries, making things worse for Punjab. Virat Kohli came in and played a nice cameo to finish off the game in the company of Kallis.
The South African all-rounder’s magical knock overshadowed fine efforts by the Punjab openers Ravi Bopara (77) and Manvinder Bisla (75). Batting first, the duo was in fine striking form, adding 129 for the opening wicket in just over 14 overs. Praveen Kumar, Dale Steyn, Kallis and Anil Kumble all went for plenty.
Mahela Jayawardene played a splendid cameo of 26 to help Punjab post an imposing 203. However, Bangalore had enough in their tank to overhaul the score.
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