Punjab 198-8 (20 ov)
Bangalore 166-9 (20 ov)
Toss: Bangalore, chose to field
Punjab: Miller 66, Sehwag 30; Chahal 2-23, Bhatia 3-23
Bangalore: De Villiers 53, Starc 29, Sandeep 3-25, Shivam 2-26
Man of the match: Sandeep Sharma (Punjab)
Much of the spotlight ahead of the Indian Premier League match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab was on Glenn Maxwell and Chris Gayle.
But it was Maxwell’s partner-in-crime throughout this season, David Miller (66 off 29 balls), who stole the show, despite a valiant 26-ball 53 from AB de Villiers, to script a 32-run victory for Punjab.
After inviting Punjab to bat first and restricting Maxwell’s stay at the crease to an 11-ball 25, the crowd let out a deafening roar, perhaps forgetting that Miller was still very much there.
If Miller was at all irked by that, he reminded everyone of his capability with a knock that called to mind his swashbuckling century in Mohali last year against the same opposition.
He did not reach the three-figure mark this time around, but his knock, containing eight fours and three sixes, provided a similar result, after helping them reach 198 for eight.
Bangalore needed someone to bat as strong as Miller. What instead occurred was a start that felt like cold water to the face, unpleasant and numbing.
Sandeep Sharma had Gayle (4) caught in the first ball of the third over by Wridhiman Saha, the keeper. Before anyone could get over another disappointment from Gayle, Virat Kohli was adjudged caught behind next ball.
There were doubts if the catch was taken clean, but television replays quelled those hopes for the fans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Sandeep did not get a hat-trick, but managed to dent Bangalore once more, removing in-form opener Parthiv Patel for 13. He finished with figures of 3-25.
Sachin Rana, promoted to No 4, only made 18. Yuvraj fell tamely for three from 11 balls as Bangalore slipped to 50 for five during the 10th over.
Albie Morkel struck two sixes, but departed soon after, and the onus was once again on de Villiers to single-handedly get Bangalore across the finish line.
Though he tried his best, he could not pull a rabbit out of the hat again as he was caught near deep cover off the bowling of Laxmipathy Balaji. Bangalore eventually finished at 166 for nine to give Punjab a second win over their rivals.
Earlier, Virender Sehwag and Mandeep Singh got Punjab off to a brisk start, helped somewhat by Bangalore’s erratic bowling.
They continued to concede extras, and ensured that Punjab did not have to take too many risks.
Morkel broke the opening stand of 60 with the wicket of Mandeep, but that only invited the man of the moment, Maxwell, who signaled his intentions straightaway with a four past backward point. Sehwag, however, perished for his fifth score in the 30s, off Yuzvendra Chahal’s bowling, finding Kohli at long on.
With 19 runs coming off a Yuvraj over alone, Maxwell might have felt it was his night once again. He attempted going after Chahal, but Starc held on at deep midwicket. But Miller remained focused. Never letting the run-rate dip below nine, he kept the bowlers and fielders alike under the pump.
Varun Aaron had Miller caught by a diving Chahal at extra cover. It appeared Aaron had overstepped, but the umpire did not seem to think so.
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