Royal Challengers Bangalore held their nerve © AFP
Royal Challengers Bangalore held their nerve to pull off a thriller © AFP

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) survived a Murali Vijay onslaught to pip Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by a mere 1 run in a thrilling Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 match at Mohali. Vijay and Hashim Amla got KXIP off to a solid start, putting on 45 for the first wicket before Amla pulled Shane Watson to Stuart Binny for 21 off 20 balls with 2 fours. Vijay, already batting fluently, took charge of the innings completely. Vijay unfurled some glorious shots and single-handedly took KXIP close. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016 at Mohali

However, Vijay did not find much support at the other end. Wriddhiman Saha was stumped by KL Rahul off Yuzvendra Chahal for 16 off 13 balls with 1 four, and David Miller was done in by Chahal first ball, again stumped by Rahul. KXIP had suddenly slipped to 88 for 3, but Vijay did not let the dismissal affect him. FULL CRICKET BLOG: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016 Match 39 at Mohali

It seemed for a while that Vijay was batting on a different pitch than the rest of the KXIP batsmen. Where Vijay was striking the ball cleanly others struggled to get bat on ball. For as long as Vijay was batting it seemed that KXIP would breeze home, but his dismissal after 17 overs — pulling Watson to Chahal at square leg — broke the back of the chase. Vijay had smashed 89 off 57 balls with 12 fours and 1 six.

With 24 runs needed off the last two overs, Watson bowled a superb over to give just 7, which left KXIP with 17 to get in the final over. Chris Jordan, who had gone for 37 off his first 3 overs, conceded a 4 and a 6 off successive balls. With 4 needed off the last ball Stoinis could only get 2, as RCB won by just 1 run.

Earlier, KL Rahul got RCB off to a terrific start and AB de Villiers took over in the middle overs. Rahul has been on a roll in IPL 9 so far, with scores of 23, 7, 51 not out, 51, 52, and 38 before this match. Rahul was in great touch again, scoring a rapid 25-ball 42 laced with 6 sparkling boundaries and 1 six. Thanks to him RCB raced away to 63 for 1 within the first 8 overs.

Rahul’s dismissal was followed immediately with that of in-form skipper Virat Kohli for 20. KC Cariappa had Rahul bowled and managed to get Kohli to drive one straight to Murali Vijay 2 balls later. Kohli was dismissed for 20 off 21 balls with 2 fours. The dismissal of Rahul brought in de Villiers at his usual No. 3 position, and he was joined shortly by Shane Watson. With both de Villiers and Watson showing good form over the last few matches, RCB would have been confident of a partnership forming. Akshar Patel had other ideas though; he managed to bowl an incredibly slow half-tracker that Watson was fooled into playing too early. Watson was bowled for 1 off only 3 balls, and RCB had now lost 3 wickets for 4 runs in 8 balls.

Sachin Baby, promoted ahead of Travis Head, came in next. He managed to bat at better than a run-a-ball, but he was no Sarfaraz Khan. RCB had de Villiers at the other end, though, and he ensured the runs came at a brisk rate. De Villiers played a few typically unconventional shots including a boundary down the ground that came off a whirly, free-flowing hit. He ended up hitting 5 fours and 2 sixes in his 35-ball 64. He and Baby put on 88 for the fifth wicket.

Baby and Travis Head tried their best to score quickly at the death, but they simply lacked the firepower to capitalise in the end. Head ended up holing out to Vijay off Sandeep Sharma for 11 off 7 balls, while Baby was run out off the final ball of the innings having scored 33 from 29 balls with only 1 four. Sandeep was on the expensive side, ending with 2 for 49, but Cariappa, Anureet Singh, and Akshar Patel were quite economical. RCB ended up with 175 for 6, which would have been a good score had it not been for their poor bowling attack.

Brief scores:

Royal Challengers Bangalore 175 for 6 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 42, AB de Villiers 64; KC Cariappa 2 for 16, Sandeep Sharma 2 for 49) beat Kings XI Punjab 174 for 4 in 20 overs (Murali Vijay 89; Yuzvendra Chahal 2 for 30, Shane Watson 2 for 22) by 1 run.

Man of the Match: Shane Watson

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(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is an animal lover and comic, film and TV geek. A fast bowler at heart, he enjoys watching a good, low-scoring game of cricket. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)