22nd of April saw 2 IPL giants going head to head – one side which is fairly new to the tournament but consists some of the most experienced players in this league i.e. the Pune supergiants, a loaded squad on paper. Whilst the other team was Royal Challengers Bangalore, a side that has for all the seasons in IPL looked a formidable unit, perhaps even good enough to take the big leap and get their hands on the cup but inconsistencies during the latter half of the tournament has unabled them to grasp their true potential.

Rising Pune vs Royal Challengers
Date 22 Apr 2016
Venue MCA International Stadium
172/8   185/3
RCB won

RCB vs RPS was Kohli vs Dhoni

Prior to the tournament, Bangalore and Pune looked like the most formidable units of IPL 2016 but a few upsets has turned the tables around and both the teams came into this match with a loss in their previous game; making it thus a contest in which winning meant getting the much needed self confidence to get back into the winning ways. The contest saw India’s current test captain in Virat Kohli going head to head against India’s limited overs captain in MS Dhoni.

Pune won the toss and decided to bowl first

Yet another toss, yet another decision by the toss winning team to chase. Dhoni explained that the dew factor also played a part in Pune’s decision to bowl first. Pune decided to make one change of dropping Irfan Pathan (who candidly speaking didn’t get the opportunity that he deserves in their last match) being repalced by Rajat Bhatia. Bangalore made 2 changes replacing Travis Head and Varun Aaron with Tabreiz Shamsi (South African county cricketer) and Mandeep Singh respectively. Gayle being unavailable for this match (due to birth of his daughter) meant that Rahul got another go as opener with Kohli.

However, unlike in the last match where Rahul smashed 2 sixes and four in the same over; today wasn’t the day where he troubled scorers. Perera grabbed his wicket when he was 7 off 10 deliveries and Villiers was again into bat in less than 4 overs of the innings.

Kohli and Villiers ruled the pitch

The duo of Kohli and Villiers torn apart the Pune bowling; abiding by their natural flow of batting and complimenting each other’s style of play – the two batsmen really didn’t seem to be troubled by any of the Pune’s bowlers. M Ashwin was the most expensive from Pune’s side, giving away 29 in his 2 overs, whilst Ishant Sharma also failed to impress with the ball giving away runs at 11.75 to the over i.e. 47 in his 4 overs.

Kohli scored 83 off 46 balls

Kohli in the bid to accelerate the run rate gave away his wicket after a well-made 80 from 63 balls and Villiers followed him to the pavilion on the very next delivery; after making 83 off 46 balls. It can be said that Kohli picked up his scoring rate in the latter half of the innings as for the major part of Bangalore’s batting, Kohli was going at around the strike rate of 100. Bangalore still managed to score 185 off their full quota of 20 overs, a score that some experts believed won’t be enough considering Pune’s strong batting line-up and with considerable amount of dew expected and IPL’s chasing trend so far (just once has team batting first won in IPL 2016), Pune had many aspects going in their favor to pull this chase off.

Pune start on a shaky note

Pune’s innings conversely couldn’t have gotten to a more horrendous start. Du Plessis departed for a cheap score of 2 and if an early wicket wasn’t enough; Petersen injured his right leg in the bid to take a quick single and was visibly struggling to get off the field – hobbling his way to the dressing room and if this all wasn’t enough; Smith lost his wicket to a silly run out really. The ball hit his pads and Smith was out of his crease, Kohli saw a run out opportunity and made the most of it – coming in from point; he picked up the ball and threw it to the striker’s end resulting in Smith’s run out.

Dhoni enters the field

For those who want Dhoni to bat higher in the batting order and give himself more overs to play in this shorter format; today was an opportunity for them to see how Dhoni goes towards playing 17 overs in the innings as he came into bat with around 17 overs to go.

Rahane in his typical composed style was unruffled with Pune losing 3 crucial wickets in the first 4 overs (1 retired hurt in Petersen). Dhoni on the other end was playing safe and running the crucial singles and doubles – ensuring that the scoreboard keeps ticking.

Ajinka Rahane scored 60 off 46

The required run rate kept on creeping up which increased the pressure of Ajinkya Rahane who departed after making 60 off 46. Dhoni too didn’t really look into his own and even though he did make a crucial 41 in 38 balls; it isn’t the usual scoring rate at which we see Dhoni going after chasing a target.

Pune found themselves in an uncomfortable position, requiring to chase 50 runs in the last 3 overs and they needed an over of more than 20 runs to get themselves back into the match.

Patel got Pune close to bull’s eye, and then…

Two 6’s and three 4’s on a trot in the 18th over of the innings from H Patel got Pune closer to the target – courtesy of phenomenal hitting from Perera. Though, after making 34 from 13 deliveries, Perera trying to clear the inner circle ended up giving a catch to Mandeep Singh at cover – Pune requiring 22 off the last 9 balls. Ashwin was next IN and was soon back to the pavilion – and fairly, he isn’t someone that you’d associate with big hitting and situation was contrary to his batting style.

In the last over, Pune required 21 runs and it’ll be a fair analysis to say that the last over was a gem from Richardson (the widely recognized Aussie pace bowler). Giving away just 7 runs and grabbing 2 wickets; nothing more could have been asked from Richardson in the last over.

Kohli’s men walk down the road to victory

Perera sure did give Bangalore a scare in the 18th over but eventually it was Kohli’s men that found their way to victory. The positives for them are many, particularly their ability to defend a target – considering that Bangalore’s weakness with bowling has been exposed in IPL 2016 in all their matches thus far, exception being this game where the bowling seems to have improved and clearly the areas of concern have been worked upon.

What next for Pune?

Pune on the other hand find themselves concerned with Petersen’s injury and inapt combination of their line-up, it’s time for them to give a chance to players sitting on the bench and try to come up with a new winning combination – Smith’s form has become an area of concern and perhaps the foreign talent on the bench may just have the solution to this issue. Moreover, the bowling isn’t strong either – Pune sure has some analysis to do.


Pre match predictions were as follows

Predicted XI

Rising Pune Supergiants

MS Dhoni (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Kevin Pietersen, Saurabh Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, Albie Morkel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Virat Kohli (Captain), Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers, Shane Watson, KL Rahul, Sarfraz Khan, Stuart Binny, Parvez Rasool, Sreenath Aravind, Kane Richardson, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal.

The Rising Pune Supergiants are a franchise cricket team based in Pune, Maharashtra, India that plays in the Indian Premier League.TThe Royal Challengers Bangalore are a franchise cricket team based in Bengaluru, Karnataka that plays in the Indian Premier League. One of the original eight teams in the IPL, the team has made two final appearances in the IPL, losing both. The two teams will play in the 16th match of IPL 9 on 22nd April 2016 at the MCA International Stadium.

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