Virat Kohli struck eight boundaries and seven sixes © AFP
Virat Kohli struck eight boundaries and seven sixes © AFP

In a truly thrilling 35th Match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) triumphed over Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) at the end. Riding on a marvelous unbeaten 108 off 58 odd balls by Virat Kohli, RCB won the match by 7 wickets and with three balls remaining. A quickfire 36 coming out of Shane Watson’s bat brought some tranquility in the RCB camp as there was a lot of tension owing to the constantly rising required run rate before his arrival. Kohli picked up from where Watson left to take RCB to victory, and with it helped his team gain those much needed two points. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD, Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rising Pune Supergiants, IPL 2016, Match 35 at Bangalore

Besides Kohli and Watson, there were some other highlights, few of which played crucial roles in tilting the momentum of this match from one side to the other. We will go through these main features in sequence:

Usman Khawja’s early onslaught and his unfortunate dismissal: Khawaja started to play big shots early on in the match, but was unfortunate to get run out after making a brisk 16 off just six balls. Khawaja was in charge of the game with two boundaries and a six. Ajinkya Rahane attempted a flick shot but missed it. Khawaja thought to steal a single after the ball hit Rahane’s thigh pad. A misunderstanding between the two batsmen ensued, and Khawaja was found short off his crease. RPS’ scorecard read 26 at that moment in 2.2 overs.

Were RCB playing on snow? RCB’s fielding was very poor in the game. Saurabh Tiwary was dropped twice in the sixth over bowled by Varun Aaron. Stuart Binny and Sachin Baby were the culprits. Watson and Aaron then missed another chance, this time of seeing Rahane’s back. KL Rahul missed a stumping chance when Saurabh Tiwary advanced down the track (off Yuzvendra Chahal’s bowling) and failed to make contact with the ball. The keeper was unable to grab the opportunity on time, and Tiwary was granted a third life. The ground fielding was not up to the mark as well. All of this happened in the first half of RCB’s innings.

Ajinkya Rahane and Saurabh Tiwary crack fifties: Tiwary made the opposition pay for giving him life on three occasions. At the same time, he was unable to do complete justice to the unbelievable luck he enjoyed. He comfortably eased to his half century coming from only 37 balls. Rahane got to his fifty two balls hence with a nicely guided pull which fetched him four runs over fine leg off Aaron’s bowling. Tiwary came down again on Chahal, but this time Rahul did not miss the stumping opportunity. He was helped by the bowler, who pitched the ball slightly wider (after seeing Tiwary advancing) making the batter stretch his arms. Rahane went on to score a 48-ball 74.

Shane Watson takes 3-wicket haul: Watson didn’t miss a chance to astonish his side with his spells. He took three wickets and all of them were crucial ones. Rahane failed to judge the extra bounce generated by Shane Watson as he made room for himself unable to find the right connection. The ball went on to clip the bails, this being Watson’s second wicket after he had got MS Dhoni caught at third man. Bailey was his third scalp.

A steady start for Challengers: Chasing a hefty target of 192, RCB were 10 for no loss after three overs. KL Rahul hit the first big shot of RCB’s innings off the second ball of the next over bowled by RP Singh. He struck a full ball for maximum over long-off. He wisely took a single the next ball bringing Kohli on strike. His batting partner hit another six. It was a stunning shot towards deep extra cover. Kohli announced his arrival, but he and Rahul still had a long way to go. Kohli hit another ball outside the ground off the final over of the powerplay. It was a full length ball which Kohli drove over the same extra cover region he had hit previously. After six overs, RCB were 46 with all 10 wickets remaining.

Virat Kohli ups the tempo: RCB scored 34 runs in the next three overs following the powerplay.  This was made possible due to Virat Kohli’s amazing stroke play. Rahul joined him in the 10th over as he hit a six off Perera’s short of length ball. It was not a slog but a well timed shot over deep midwicket. After the end of 10 overs, RCB required 111 more runs to win. With wickets in hand it was definitely within reach. Kohli hit two back-to-back fours off Rajat Bhatia, both were charming strokes, one at extra cover and the other near the long-on fence. The opening partnership was broken by Adam Zampa in the 12th over. He got Rahul out in the deep and AB de Villiers as well. At this point, the match had entered a deeply engrossing stage.

Shane Watson’s cameo: Hard-hitting batsman Watson hammered 36 runs off just 13 balls. He hit five boundaries in Perera’s over. It was pure muscular power coupled with good timing at display. RP Singh was introduced into the attack, and he trapped the batter off his third ball, the first to Watson. It was a tough call but the umpire finally gave it to the bowler.

Virat Kohli smashes century, reaches 6,000 T20 runs and finishes things off for RCB: Kohli went berserk after the fall of Watson. Maybe that small yet powerful innings charged him up. Kohli smashed his second hundred in IPL, reached the 6,000-run milestone in T20 cricket and helped the Challengers win with three balls to spare.

(Bhaskar Narayan is a reporter at CricketCountry and Criclife. He passionately follows the game and is a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar. His Twitter handle is @Cricopathy)