Beleaguered RCB trounced again, facing likely IPL exit
Royal Challengers Bangalore's faint hopes of making the Indian Premier League play-offs took another hit as their batting line-up again failed miserably in a 61-run defeat to Rising Pune Supergiant.
A woeful campaign for Bangalore, which reached its nadir last weekend when they were skittled for a record-low score of 49 by Kolkata Knight Riders, had left Virat Kohli's side staring at elimination.
And although Kohli struck 55 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Saturday, no other batsman was able to reach double figures as RCB limped to 96-9 in pursuit of 158.
As a result, the Royal Challengers appear certain to miss the play-offs, but things look much better for Pune, who cemented their grip on fourth position with a fifth win from nine outings.
Skipper Steve Smith top-scored for the Supergiant with 45, while there were also strong contributions from in-form opener Rahul Tripathi (37), Manoj Tiwary (44 not out) and MS Dhoni (21 not out) in an innings of 157-3 that provided a sharp contrast to the chaos that followed.
"It's hard for a captain to stand here and speak after a performance like this," said Kohli in a post-match interview with former England batsman Kevin Pietersen.
After winning the toss, Kohli offered Tripathi, who has now passed 30 in six successive innings, an early reprieve as he put down an easy chance at mid-on off Adam Milne.
RCB struck next ball, Samuel Badree having Ajinkya Rahane caught at short fine-leg by Milne, but Pune prospered thereafter despite a tight spell from Pawan Negi (1-18 from four overs).
Kohli looked in the mood to lead a successful reply when he raced to 21 off 11 balls with the aid of three fours in one Deepak Chahar over.
Yet it was not long before wickets started tumbling around the captain, who was partially to blame for Kedar Jadhav being run out as the duo were finally punished for one of several mix-ups between the wickets.
By the time Kohli brought up his half-century with a six off Imran Tahir in the 17th over, victory was already assured for Pune. Lockie Ferguson (2-7 from four overs) and Tahir (3-18 from four) were the pick of the home attack.