As mentioned in the preview, the clash between Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore was expected to be a tussle between two big-hitting sides. As such, the side which bowled slightly better was likely to have the upper hand. It was exactly how things turned out to be. Bangalore batted first, and put up an impressive total once again. In response, Punjab's batting also flourished. At the end of the day though, Bangalore won by the smallest of margins since their bowlers managed to hold their nerve under pressure. It was a much-needed win to boost their bowlers' confidence.
In a high scoring match, the splendid bowling effort of Shane Watson was a big difference. It was anybody's game as the match headed into the last two overs. But, Watson delivered a splendid penultimate over to swing the match Bangalore's way. Punjab fought hard in the final over as well, but that Watson over had left them with too much to do. Not only was it the penultimate over that Watson bowled which made the difference, but he also claimed two other big wickets. One was that of Hashim Amla, and the other of Murali Vijay, who looking in complete control of things.
Bangalore were aided in a big way in the batting department as well by AB de Villiers, who played a roaring innings. For a change, Virat Kohli wasn't in fluent form, and that hurt the Bangalore momentum to an extent. Thankfully for Bangalore, Lokesh Rahul continued his good run. But, when he Kohli and Watson departed in quick succession, Bangalore were definitely in a spot of bother. This is where de Villiers did very well. He manoeuvred the bowling early on, and once he got his eye in, literally toyed with the bowling. De Villiers found support from Sachin Baby, who hung around and allowed a fruitful partnership to develop.
Chasing a big score, Punjab needed to get off to a confident start. Amla and Vijay did the same, but the former well just as Punjab were looking to accelerate. In hindsight, it was a big blow as the following Punjab batsmen weren't in great form. Wriddhiman Saha was run out without contributing much while David Miller's horror run continued as he was stumped first ball. This poor phase came back to haunt Punjab even as Vijay held the innings together till almost the end. Marcus Stoinis again impressed with his big hitting, but Punjab were left with a bit too much to do.
While Watson's performance stood out with the ball, he found good support from Yuzvendra Chahal, who slowly but surely is getting into some sort of groove. The experiment with Chris Jordan proved expensive though as he nearly cost Bangalore the match. Iqbal Abdulla and Varun Aaron were strictly okay. For Punjab, KC Cariappa and Axar Patel were the most impressive. But, they lacked the brilliance of a Watson, which was the clinching factor in a close contest.
-- By A Cricket Analyst