Kohli century trumps Klaasen ton as RCB stay alive

Kohli century trumps Klaasen ton as RCB stay alive

The Royal Challengers Bangalore picked up a crucial two points in the race for the playoff positions with their dominating eight-wicket win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Thursday. Heinrich Klaasen’s trailblazing ton single-handedly powered SRH to 186, but his efforts were thwarted by another Virat Kohli chasing masterclass, as the opener scored his sixth IPL century to help Bangalore mow down Hyderabad’s target with ease.

RCB’s victory takes them above the Mumbai Indians to fourth in the table thanks to their superior net run rate, and victory over Gujarat Titans in their final group fixture could be enough to seal their spot in the final four.

Having won the toss and opted to bowl first, RCB got off to a fantastic start as off-spinner Michael Bracewell got rid of SRH’s new opening combination of Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi in the same over. The hosts opted to promote the in-form Heinrich Klaasen to number four to launch a fightback, and the South African immediately produced a response for the Men in Orange.

Klaasen laced his first ball against Bracewell for a four and slammed three boundaries off Shahbaz Ahmed in the sixth over to get his innings underway. The wicket-keeper dominated the RCB spin attack throughout the middle overs, getting to his half-century of just 24 deliveries. Skipper Aiden Markram struggled his way to a 20-ball 18, but Klaasen continued to pelt the RCB bowlers, smashing Karn Sharma and Shahbaz Ahmed for big overs.

The South African got to his maiden IPL century with a six down the ground against Harshal Patel, but the lack of support from the other batters meant that SRH only managed to score 187, with just four runs coming off the final over after Klaasen’s departure in the 19th.

In response, Virat Kohli kicked off RCB’s chase in style, smashing the first two deliveries from Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the boundary. The visitors never looked back from that point onwards, punishing an inexperienced SRH attack to all parts of the ground. Faf was offered a lifeline by a misjudged effort in the deep from Glenn Phillips, and the skipper cashed in on his good fortune, creaming Karthik Tyagi and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a flurry of boundaries inside the powerplay.

After scoring 64 runs in the first six, the two openers cruised through the middle against the spinners before switching through the gears once pace was reintroduced. Kohli got to his fifty in 35 deliveries and stepped on the accelerator against Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 15th over, displaying peerless timing to smash the seamer for four fours. The opener got to a joint-record sixth IPL ton with another six off Bhuvneshwar and shared a season-high 172-run stand with Faf du Plessis before eventually holing out in the deep to Glenn Phillips.

Both openers departed with the finish line in sight, and Glenn Maxwell and Michael Bracewell finished the job for the visitors, taking RCB to their seventh win of the season.