When the Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) took on the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on the 7th of May at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore it pitted the current MS Dhoni the current India T20 skipper against Virat Kohli, the future skipper of India’s T20 team.
The RPS looked a stronger side with its new set of overseas players which included the likes of George Bailey, Usman Khawaja and Adam Zampa. However it was the Indian players who performed with the bat for RPS as Rahane gave them a strong platform with a well compiled 74 and S Tiwary scored a half century. Captain Dhoni was unable to get going and in the end RPS managed to get 191 on the board when they earlier looked like getting past 200.
RCB have had a poor run during the past few matches and Kohli decided to take up the challenge himself, just like he did for India during the recent T20 World Cup. Kohli who loves a chase, paced himself well and scored his second century of the 2016 IPL to guide his side safely home. He remained unbeaten on 108 with a strike rate that was over 180 and none of the RPS bowlers were able to keep him quiet.
Kohli was let off when he was on four after George Bailey missed a run-out opportunity. Shane Watson provided some hard hitting at the end scoring 36 quick runs in just 13 balls to take the pressure of Kohli. Watson hit two sixes and five fours in his knock which came at a strike rate of over 275. He also had a great game with the ball earlier sending down his four overs for just 24 runs and took 3 key wickets in Rahane, Bailey and Dhoni. However it was Kohli who won the man of the match award for his fabulous hundred.
In a statement, Kohli said “I was pretty determined tonight, last time in Hyderabad we had to chase down 192 and we were pumped up. Today I was motivated to go that extra mile and we needed to win six out of seven to qualify. I’m just happy we could pull that one off. It’s never easy in a chase when you need to find boundaries at the right time. Brilliant contributions from KL and Watson in the middle overs too”.
After this defeat, RPS has a very slim chance of moving on towards the semi-final stage of the tournament and questions will continue to be raised of MS Dhoni’s captaincy and his dependence on R Ashwin who sent down just one over in the match.