BENGALURU: Captain Virat Kohli smashed his second century of the season in a magnificent batting display to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore to a thrilling seven-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiants in an IPL match hereon Saturday.
Kohli struck an unbeaten 108 off just 58 balls with the help of eight fours and seven sixes in a display of batting pyrotechnics at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here as Bangalore chased down the challenging target of 192 with three balls to spare to notch up their third win in eight matches.
The RCB skipper entered into record books as he became the only batsman to score two tons in a single IPL season. He also joined the likes of Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, David Warner, AB de Villiers, Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag to hit two IPL centuries overall. The most number of IPL tons — five — though still belongs to Chris Gayle.
Kohli’s ton also overshadowed an amazing late assault of 13-ball 36 that included five fours and two sixes by Shane Watson which suddenly tilted the balance of the match in favour of Bangalore after it was poised evenly a couple of overs after the halfway stage.
Bangalore took 39 runs off two overs — 20 from 14th over bowled by Thisara Perera and 19 from the 15th bowled by Rajat Bhatia. Watson smashed a hapless Perera for five fours in a scintillating show of strokemaking. He then hit Bhatia for two sixes as the bowler bled 19 runs.
Kohli then took over as he smashed two sixes and a four off Adam Zampa in the 18th over and two sixes off RP Singh in the 19th over to steal 18 runs from each of the two overs. He hit Ashok Dinda for a four to finish off the match, as Bangalore reached 195 for three in 19.3 overs.
The match also witnessed Pune captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni introducing off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin only in the 17th over and he was not used after that.
Bangalore, however, made a sedate start in their run chase but soon found the boundaries with Kohli hitting two sixes off RP Singh in the fourth over to set the tempo.
By the end of powerplay overs, Bangalore were placed at a decent 46 for no loss with both Kohli and Lokesh Rahul (38) going strong. Runs keep on coming with Kohli and Rahul getting the boundaries and the home side reached 81 for no loss at the halfway mark.
Kohli, who hit his first ton of the season against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot, continued his aggressive intent as he hit Bhatia for two fours and then brought up his half century with a two in the 11th over.
Just as Bangalore looked like pressing the accelerator, they suffered a jolt with two quick wickets in the form of Rahul and A B de Villiers in the 12 over as the home side were reduced to.
Rahul fell to Zampa as he came down the track for a big drive but only to find the ball turned away and the edge was safely taken by George Bailey at deep cover. Rahul hit one four and two sixes in his 35-ball 38.
De Villiers disapppointed as he fell to Zampa fove balls later for just one after facing three balls. He miscued a drive and Thisara Perera took a catch just above his head just inside the boundary.
The match, however, turned on its head and in Bangalore’s favour as the home side milked 39 runs off two overs — 20 from 14th bowled by Perera and 19 from the 15th by Bhatia. Watson smashed a hapless Perera for five fours in a scintilalting show of strokemaking. He then hit Bhatia for two sixes as the bowler bled 19 runs.
That brought down the asking rate to 10 an over and immediately Watson was out LBW to Singh in the 16th over.
Ashwin was introduced in the 17th over and he gave away seven runs and after that he was not used as Kohli made the stadium on fire with a flurry of lusty blows to take the game away from Pune.
Earlier, Ajinkya Rahane and Saurabh Tiwary smashed half centuries to power Pune to an imposing 191 for six after being put into bat.
While opener Rahane made 74 off 48 balls with the help of eight boundaries and two sixes, Tiwary’s 52 came off 39 balls during which he struck nine boundaries.
Yazuvendra Singh Chahal was the only bowler for Bangalore to pick up the lone wicket as Usman Khawaja who was run out for 16 runs off six balls with two boundaries and a six.
Pune had a poor start as Khawaja lost his wicket when the score was 26 on the board in 2.2 overs.
The dismissal, however, brought together Rahane and Tiwary, who played sensibly and took the bowling apart when required as they hit some exquisite shots to put together 106 runs for the second wicket.
As usual, Rahane played a composed innings while Tiwary showed his attacking intent from the word go as he hit Parveez Rasool and Shane Watson for boundaries.
Rahane came out with a plan and accumulated runs in singles and twos, and getting an odd boundaries here and there. He and Tiwary brought up their century stand in the 13th over.
Early in his innings though, Rahane had a narrow escape when on four as he almost gave a catch to the diving Stuart Binny who reached to grab the ball which caressed his fingers.
Thereafter, it was Tiwary and Rahane show until the former lost his wicket to Chahal when he was caught behind the stumps by K L Rahul.
After breaking the century partnership of Tiwary and Rahane, RCB bounced back into the game by taking four wickets for 42 runs, considerably restricting Pune’s run flow.
Watson was the main architect to bring RCB back by taking three wickets — that of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (9), Rahane and George Bailey (0).
Thisara Perera (14) was caught by Watson off Chris Jordan, who celebrated his first wicket for RCB. Rajat Bhatia (9 not out) and R Ashwin (10 not out) collected 16 runs off the last over bowled of Jordan. Ashwin tonked two huge sixes.