Kohli snatches victory away from stunned Lions
Virat Kohli smashed an unbeaten 49 to rescue the Royal Challengers Bangalore to seal a thrilling 6 wicket victory over the Highveld Lions to seal their place in the Twenty20 Champions League semi finals.
Set a target of 160 for victory the Royal Challengers were on the verge of defeat but a late innings charge by Kohli who smashed 49 from just 29 balls allowed Anil Kumble’s to secure their place in the knock out stages.
Faced with a relatively easy run chase the Royal Challengers got off to a positive start thanks to Rahul Dravid and Manish Pandey who scored 38 runs during the power play overs to leave the Lions needing to find a breakthrough.
Although their partnership was unspectacular it did give the Royal Challengers the perfect platform to push on for victory after Dravid (33) was bowled by Aaron Phangiso at the end of the 8th to bring to an end their opening partnership of 53.
Despite the lose of Dravid, Pandey continued his impressive innings smashing Phangiso for a boundary and a six in the 10th over as he shared a 2nd wicket partnership of 32 with Virat Kohli.
With one eye on a well deserved half century Pandey’s (44) innings was cut short by Richard Cameron who dismissed the opener thanks to an excellent catch by Ethan O'Reilly out on the long-off boundary at the start of the 12th over.
The wicket of Pandey was the latest twist in a pulsating encounter; with the Lions taking advantage of the Royal Challengers loss as the required run rate climb to 8.85.
With just 7 overs remaining the Royal Challengers still needed another 62 runs to secure victory but their task was made even harder when Ross Taylor (5) picked out Alviro Petersen in the covers to give Cliff Deacon a vital breakthrough to leave Anil Kumble’s stuttering side 98-3.
The Lions edged further in control an over later when Robin Uthappa (7) was run out after a mix up with Kohli who turned down a second run as the pressure mounted on the Royal Challengers.
Having run out Uthappa; Kohli redeemed himself by smashing O’Reilly for two sixes and a boundary two overs later to set up a thrilling finish with the Royal Challengers needing 24 runs from 18 balls.
Cameron White, who had been quiet since his arrival at the crease launched his innings with a boundary off the bowling of Robert Frylinck before dispatching Zander de Bruyn for a six in the 19th over to leave the Royal Challengers needing one run from 8 balls.
White wasted little time scoring the winning runs from the final delivery of de Bruyn’s over to spark wild celebrations form the Royal Challengers who became the first IPL team to seal a place in the Twenty20 Champions League.
Having won the toss the Lions got off to an encouraging start thanks to Petersen and Jonathan Vandiar who smashed 26 runs off the first 3 overs to put the Lions in charge before Vinay Kumar hit back with two quick wickets.
The pair played some beautiful cricket shots peppering the boundaries with 3 fours and a six before Vandiar attempted a wild slog off a short delivery from Kumar which he edged to Robin Uthappa behind the stumps.
Kumar struck again with his next delivery to remove Richard Cameron with a perfect length delivery which shaped away from the batsman’s off stump and was edged to the wicket keeper to leave the Lions 29-2.
Despite losing two quick wickets Petersen continued his charge with new partner Vaughn van Jaarsveld offering support during a 2nd wicket partnership of 43.
The pair took advantage of the field restrictions during the final two overs of the power play smashing Praveen Kumar for two fours and Vinay Kumar for two sixes to reach 57-2, their best total after 6 overs.
With the runs starting to flow Anil Kumble brought himself into the attack conceding just 5 runs in the 7th over but the arrival of Dale Steyn an over later cost the Royal Challengers 11 runs despite picking up the wicket of van Jaarsveld (24) who was run out after a mix up with Petersen.
The loss of van Jaarsveld was a blow for the home side but Petersen and Neil McKenzie made sure they wouldn’t lose the momentum with a quick fire partnership of 27 before Petersen’s (45) brilliant innings was ended by Kumble.
The lose of their skipper left the Lions 100-4 but more importantly tipped the balance of the game in the favour of the Royal Challengers who increased the pressure by denying McKenzie and Zander de Bruyn many scoring opportunities as the run rate decreased to just over 7 a over.
Kumble completed his four over spell with the excellent figures of 13-1 to leave the Lions 111-4 with only 5 overs remaining after they had reached the midway point of their innings 83-3.
With the pressure mounting de Bruyn (7) tried to break the shackles but his attempted slog off the bowling of Dillion du Preez fell short of the boundary safely into the hands of Virat Kohli to leave the Lions 128-5.
McKenzie (39) quickly followed after he was run out by Kohli to leave Robert Frylinck (22) and Thami Tsolekile (5) to see out the final 7 balls of the innings adding a vital 19 runs to help the Lions reach 159-6.