Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) confirmed their IPL 2021 playoffs’ spot with a six-run win over Punjab Kings.
With 16 points, Virat Kohli-led side now sits comfortably at third on the points table behind Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals.
KL Rahul’s men are now out of the contention as they have only one match left and the required points to qualify are 14. They are left with 10 points.
Maxwell rises to the occasion
Hard-hitter Glenn Maxwell continued his sublime form with the third consecutive fifty of the competition after they opted to bat first.
His innings help RCB to post 164/7 on a tough Sharjah pitch where it was not easy to smack from the ball.
Maxwell battled the way out of Punjab’s bowlers after Moises Henriques sneaked three wickets, including set openers Devdutt Padikkal (40) and Kohli (25).
In his 33-ball 57, Maxwell hit four maximums and three fours.
He batted with an impressive strike rate of 172.73. He was supported brilliantly by AB de Villiers, who scored 23 off 18 balls.
Maxwell praised openers for batting in a difficult time and providing a 68-run stand.
“Came in at a nice time to bat. To have it set up by the openers today gave us some time to get an idea of the wicket,” the Australian star said while receiving the Player of the Match award.
Chahal bring his experience into play
Yuzvendra Chahal produced a match-winning spell of 3/29 after Punjab Kings’ openers looked set to chase down the 165-run target.
KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal posted a 91-run opening stand.
Shahbaz Ahmed removed Rahul to provided a crucial breakthrough but Chahal hold the other end and eventually bagged three wickets.
He removed Nicholas Pooran, Agarwal and Sarfaraz Ahmed in his four-over spell.
Two wickets in the 16th over pushed Punjab Kings back and they finished on 158/6.
Controversy surrounds the third-umpire decision
Another controversial decision by the third umpire during the UAE leg left everyone shocked.
A caught-behind appeal was turned down in the eighth over of the RCB’s innings.
RCB opener Devdutt Padikkal tried to sweep Ravi Bishnoi’s delivery running down the leg stump but failed to make any connection as Rahul collected it.
Bishnoi and Rahul were certain about the ball taking an edge on its way, the on-field umpire didn’t look interested as the appeal was forwarded to the TV umpire.
Snickometer showed a clear spike when the ball passed close to the gloves and the bat, however, the official still stayed with the on-field umpire’s decision, leading Rahul and Punjab Kings to frustration.
Kohli eyes top-two finish
Kohli is thrilled after RCB won eight matches out of 12 games and is hoping to finish in the top two by winning the remaining games.
He knew the importance of Rahul and Agarwal’s wickets that can bring them back into the game.
“We have two more opportunities to finish in the top two. We knew the wicket would get slower and slower. KL and Mayank batted really well, but we knew we were just two wickets from coming back into the game.”
Rahul once again claimed Orange Cup but he is not happy as the team is now out of the event.
He also lamented that his batters have disappointed over the last two seasons.
“I wouldn’t say I haven’t enjoyed wearing it (the Orange Cap) but I would have been happier if we had qualified. The last couple of years have been disappointing. If I have to be honest, our batting has let us down.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore 164 for 7 (Maxwell 57, Padikkal 40, Henriques 3-12) beat Punjab Kings 158 for 6 (Agarwal 57, Rahul 39, Chahal 3-29) by six runs.