Royal Challengers Bangalore qualified for its second successive playoffs in the Indian Premier League with a six-run win over Punjab Kings on Sunday.
Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals have already made it to the last four with 18 points each. Bangalore joined the top two and has 16 points. All three teams still have two league games to play.
The defeat pushed Punjab into a very tight corner with 10 points after 13 games. It needs to win its last league game against a strong opponent, Chennai, on Thursday but also requires the results of other games to go its way.
Punjab batters continued to let down captain K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal’s confident starts in the tournament with the team restricted to 158-6 in its unsuccessful chase.
Glenn Maxwell (57) had earlier smashed four sixes and three boundaries and pushed Bangalore’s total to 164-7 despite Moises Henriques bowling a miserly spell of 3-12 and Mohammed Shami (3-39) getting all his wickets in the last over.
“Eight wins out of 12 games is a great campaign, (and) we have two more opportunities to finish in the top two,” said Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli, who won the toss and opted to bat on a slow wicket.
“KL (Rahul) and Mayank (Agarwal) batted really well, but we knew we were just two wickets from coming back into the game.”
Agarwal (57) and tournament top-scorer Rahul (39) took Punjab to 91 in the 11th over before Rahul, the Punjab captain, was caught at short third man.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-29) then struck three times in two successive overs that included the dismissal of Agarwal as Punjab lost wickets at regular intervals. Earlier, Devdutt Padikkal (40) and Kohli (25) laid a watchful foundation of 68 runs in almost 10 overs for Bangalore with Padikkal surviving a contentious caught behind decision.
A.B. de Villiers (23) and Maxwell then accelerated in the latter half of the innings with a 73-run fourth-wicket stand before de Villiers was run out in the penultimate over.
Maxwell has been in top form for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Maxwell recently stated that he is happy and enjoying his time at RCB.
Meanwhile, former India captain and batting legend Sunil Gavaskar tried to analyse Maxwell’s statement.
While speaking on Star Sports, Gavaskar said, “He [Maxwell] said he is happy here. What does that mean, was he unhappy there? You don’t even need to read between the lines when you say he is happy with RCB. It means he was not very happy or comfortable at Punjab. So maybe the fact that Maxwell is not really the ‘Big Show’ here as far as RCB are concerned because here there is Virat Kohli, who is the biggest show and there is AB de Villiers.”
Gavaskar further added that the presence of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have made Maxwell’s life easy.
“Batting between the two of them is giving him that confidence, that comfort that ‘it is not entirely dependent on me to take the score to a big score. These two are capable of doing it as well.’ So that pressure is taken off his shoulders as well,” Gavaskar added.
He has scored 407 runs at an average of 40.70.