Bangalore got off to an excellent start with the bat as skipper Faf du Plessis, playing as an impact player due to injury concerns, and stand-in skipper Virat Kohli added 137 for the opening wicket in 16.1 overs. Du Plessis top-scored for RCB with 84 off 56 balls. He struck five fours and as many sixes and looked set for a hundred when he fell to Nathan Ellis.
Earlier, left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar struck a double blow to bring Punjab back in the contest. He first dismissed Kohli for 59 off 47 balls. The batter struck five fours and a six before being caught behind off Brar’s bowling. Glenn Maxwell (0) perished off the very next ball as he miscued his heave. Dinesh Karthik fell to Arshdeep Singh for 7 as Punjab did well to restrict RCB to under 180.
Chasing 175, Punjab got off to a poor start, losing four wickets for 43 runs inside the powerplay. Mohammed Siraj, who excelled with figures of 4/21, trapped Atharva Taide leg before for 4. Matthew Short (8) was then cleaned up by Wanindu Hasaranga (2/39), while Siraj accounted for Liam Livingstone’s (2) wicket with another lbw. The RCB pacer also ran out Harpreet Singh Bhatia (13) with a direct hit.
Prabhsimran Singh (46 off 30) and Jitesh Sharma (41 off 27) showed some defiance, but the innings crumbled around them. Sam Curran (10) was run out (by Hasaranga) in lethargic fashion, while Shahrukh Khan (7) was stumped off Hasaranga. Siraj returned to clean up Brar (13) and Nathan Ellis (1) before Harshal Patel ended Jitesh’s resistance and the match.
Speaking after being named Player of the Match, Siraj said he realized he needed to bowl full on the wicket. The pacer commented, “First ball the length was a bit short and then I sensed need to bowl full to get some swing and that was the plan.”
The bowler added that the lockdown helped him revamp his game. He elaborated, “The lockdown was really important for me, because I used to get hit for boundaries very often before that. I worked on my plans, my fitness and my bowling and it’s all paying dividends now.
“I always try to improve in every department of the game because I understand it is important to contribute in whichever way possible,” he added.
--By A Cricket Correspondent