Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Rajasthan Royals by five wickets

IPL Cricket

Royal Challengers Bangalore enhanced their chances of making the IPL semifinals as they humbled Rajasthan Royals by five wickets on Wednesday to move to the second spot in the points table.

Chasing a modest 131 to win, Bangalore overhauled the target with 4.2 overs to spare as Kevin Pietersen (62) hit an attacking half-century to steer his side to easy win.

Earlier, the pace bowlers of the Bangalore exploited the slow nature of the strip brilliantly at the Swai Man Singh stadium to restrict the hosts to a modest 130 for six, making rival skipper Shane Warne rue his decision to bat.

With this win, Bangalore are now sitting second in the table with 14 points behind Mumbai Indians and would look to seal the semifinal spot when they take on the table-toppers on Saturday.

Rajasthan, who remain in fifth position, would now have to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by a huge margin the same day and hope results of other matches also go in their favour.

Pietersen made a good return to the side as his attacking brand of play, in the company of equally destructive Uthappa, ensured that his side win the crucial encounter comfortably.

They raised a quick-fire 60-run partnership for the third wicket which ended when Uthappa (26) was stumped by Warne.

Pietersen’s blistering knock came off just 29 balls and was laced with 10 boundaries and two six while Uthappa hit two fours and a six in his 21-ball cameo.

The English batsman made his intent clear when he creamed Kamran Khan for three fours and a six in the fourth over.

Warne made quick changes but Pietersen was batting like a man-on-mission and welcomed Adam Voges with three boundaries in the sixth over. At half-way mark, Bangalore were placed comfortably at 91 for two.

Warne was not spared either as Pietersen hit him for a four and a six in the 11 over. However the wily Australian broke the partnership by having Uthappa stumped.

Pietersen’s breezy knock met with a sad as a terrible mix up with Virat Kohli (14) spelt his run out.

Earlier, such was the control of the Bangalore bowlers that only 14 fours were scored and the only six which was hit in the entire Rajasthan innings came in the last over.

Abhishek Raut was the top scorer for the hosts with his unbeaten 32 and it was his undefeated seventh-wicket partnership of 58 runs with Voges (28) that helped the side set at least a modest target.

Drafted into the playing XI today, Pankaj Singh (2/27) was the most successful bowler for the visitors with two wickets while Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and R Vinay Kumar took one wicket each.

Raut and Voges joined forces when their team was tottering at 72 for six and did extremely well to give something to bowlers to fight for.

The hosts did not get the start they would have hoped for after winning the toss as they lost wickets in a hurry.

In a space of seven balls both the openers — Naman Ojha (7) and Michael Lumb (9) — and Amit Paunikar (0) were cooling their heels back in the dug out.

The following batsmen found the scoring tough against a disciplined Bangalore attack on a slow pitch as only four boundaries came in the first six overs.

Shane Watson tried to break shackles by hitting rival skipper Anil Kumble for two fours but soon he too was back with his teammates as his attempted pull of Kallis went straight to Pietersen at square leg.

Watson took 25 balls to score his 22 which had three fours.

Abhishek Jhunjunwala (13) followed him, becoming second victim of Pankaj as his attempted big shot landed in hands of Kumble at mid-off.

Yusuf Pathan (11) though did not let Pankaj celebrate much and hit him for two consecutive fours.

Pathan though could not rescue his side from the dismal start as Steyn uprooted his off-stump to seal his fate.

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