Indian T20 League: Bangalore qualify for playoffs

It was a tense finish at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, but Virat Kohli’s men kept their cool to beat Punjab by six runs and clinch a playoff spot for the second season in a row. It was also the first time Bangalore won eight games in the league since the 2016 season. With their eighth defeat, Punjab are on the brink of elimination. They have to win their final game and need a few results to go their way to have any chance of making it to the playoffs.

Glenn Maxwell and Yuzvendra Chahal were the key architects in the victory. The pinch-hitter came to Bangalore’s rescue after they lost three wickets in quick succession. He scored a 33-ball 57 – four sixes and three fours – and put together 73 runs for the fourth wicket with AB de Villiers. Meanwhile, Chahal took three wickets and turned the game on its head. For Punjab, Moises Henriques shone with the ball, and Mayank grabbed his fourth half-century this season.

Dropped catches, third umpire gaffe

After winning the toss, Kohli opted to bat on a track, which favored the team batting second in four out of five matches this season. Bangalore were unchanged, while Punjab replaced Deepak Hooda, Nathan Ellis, and Fabian Allen with Henriques, Sarfaraz Khan, and Harpreet Brar. Punjab missed a few opportunities to grab the opening breakthrough in the powerplay. Kohli, who stepped down the track, completely misread Ravi Bishnoi’s googly, but Rahul couldn’t collect the ball.

Two balls later, Padikkal tried to slog the ball but missed it, and Rahul failed to hold on to it. It seemed there was an inside edge. Former Bangalore player Sarfaraz dropped Kohli at midwicket in the fifth over.

Controversy erupted when Padikkal’s attempted reverse sweep went into the hands of Rahul. The Punjab skipper was confident that Padikkal had gloved it. The on-field umpire was unmoved, which prompted Rahul to review it. The replays indicated there was a spike when the ball passed through the Bangalore batsman’s gloves. However, the third umpire, much to the surprise of Punjab players, retained the on-field umpire’s decision.

Maxwell to the aid

From 68/0, Bangalore fell to 73/3. Henriques claimed the wickets of Kohli, Dan Christian, and Padikkal. Maxwell, up against his former team, struck two sixes off Harpreet, who had conceded just ten runs in his first three overs. The Aussie batsman also cleared the ropes twice off Bishnoi. At the other end, De Villiers went after Mohammed Shami. He hit a four and hammered the last ball over long-on. The former South Africa skipper also hit a gigantic six, which struck the roof of the pavilion.

Maxwell brought up his fifth fifty of the season in just 29 balls. Bangalore lost a flurry of wickets towards the end but managed to post a challenging total of 164. Shami bagged a three-wicket haul, two of them coming in the final over of the innings. However, it was Henriques who impressed with figures of 3/12 in four overs.

Hopeful opening stand

Rahul and Mayank started the run chase in a typical fashion. The duo took on Mohammed Siraj and George Garton in their respective second overs. Punjab racked up 49 runs in the powerplay without the loss of a wicket. Mayank thrashed two fours off Dan Christian and also clobbered Chahal for two boundaries. The scorecard read 81/0 at the halfway mark.

Shahbaz Ahmed broke the 91-run stand after Rahul gave an easy catch to Harshal Patel. The 29-year-old, who crossed 500 runs for the fourth successive season, departed for 39. The asking rate was well under control, and Punjab sent Nicholas Pooran ahead of Aiden Markram again.

The meltdown

Pooran, yet to cross the three-figure mark this season, threw away his wicket after he skied Chahal’s tossed-up delivery to deep backward square. The required rate climbed to ten runs per over. In another setback to Punjab, Mayank and Sarfaraz departed in quick succession. It was sensational bowling from Chahal to drift the game away from Punjab.

Punjab fans saw their hopes dashed when Markram holed out for 20. Despite a few boundaries from Shahrukh Khan and Henriques, Punjab fell short by six runs. They needed 19 from the last over. Harshal ran out Shahrukh in the first ball. Though Henriques cleared the ropes in the penultimate ball of the match, the target by then had become improbable. Punjab will face Chennai on Thursday, while Bangalore lock horns with bottom-placed Hyderabad on Wednesday.

Bangalore 164/7 in 20 overs (G Maxwell 57, D Padikkal 40; M Henriques 3/12, M Shami 3/39)

Rajasthan 158/6 in 20 overs (M Agarwal 57, K L Rahul 39; Y Chahal 3/29)

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