Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2017, Bengaluru May 5, 2017

Axar, Sandeep thrust Kings XI after another RCB collapse

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Kings XI Punjab 138 for 7 (Axar 38) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 119 (Mandeep 46, Axar 3-11, Sandeep 3-22) by 19 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Highlights - Kings XI defend 138 as RCB slump again

Setting a target or chasing one, Royal Challengers Bangalore have swung to the collapso beat through the season. Up against a relatively simple chase of 139, albeit on a slow surface, Royal Challengers slumped to 119, slipping to their fifth consecutive loss in completed games. Kings XI Punjab executed on all counts in the second innings - their seamers were accurate, the spinners were economical and the fielding wasn't conspicuous, all of which resulted in the lowest total defended at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in the IPL, drastically improving their chances of making the playoffs.

Axar Patel had another stellar day with bat and ball. He took 3 for 11, but his most important contribution came towards the closing stages of the first innings, with his cameo - 38 off 17 balls - pushing Kings XI to 138. Sandeep Sharma then took out Royal Challengers' best batsmen - Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers - in his opening spell to fatally weaken a brittle batting line-up.

Batsmen cheated by relaid pitch

In previous seasons, batsmen were allowed to do what they wanted at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. They had the backing of short boundaries if a shot was mis-timed and gradually developed a relationship of trust with a true, gorgeous surface.

This season, a relaid surface has not only belied that trust, but it has already begun an intimate affair with the bowlers. A slow pitch with variable bounce was evident from the outset, and Kings XI struggled to cope with an atypical IPL surface. The average Powerplay score, before this game, was 39.4 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in first innings' this season. Kings XI laboured to 35 and lost their openers - Hashim Amla and Martin Guptill - in the Powerplay. Royal Challengers claimed the early advantage and didn't let go.

Axar's finishing credentials

A wire-to-wire win - dominating from start to finish - is a rare entity in T20s, primarily because an over, or even a ball, can change the direction of momentum. Axar has added incredible clean-hitting ability to his repertoire this season: before this game, he had hammered 112 runs off 59 balls in the end overs this season at a strike rate of 189.67, clinically executing his role as finisher.

Against Royal Challengers, he simply planned well and executed - picking his areas and battering them. He ended with 38 off just 17 balls, including taking Shane Watson for 18 in the last over. Momentum, clichéd as it may be, was with Kings XI. Kohli, visibly displeased with the last over, knew it too.

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Swing+accuracy>pace?

Sandeep's biggest asset is not his speed - he is just about medium pace - but his accuracy and the ability to move the ball both ways. He is at his devastating best when he is able to find them both in perfect sync. He had one hooping away from Gayle to have him caught at point. Then, he got through Kohli's defence with an inswinger.

Aware that de Villiers was anticipating another inswinger, he bowled a couple of deliveries that moved away - one beat the bat, one took the edge. Sandeep, using his strengths, had opened up Royal Challengers' weakness.

Confidence affecting ability

Home or away, strong or not, Royal Challengers' batting has failed this season. Confidence is an abstract aspect that is almost always defined by results in sports. The confidence of success can positively influence tight games, but repeated failures can have a devastating effect mentally. Royal Challengers' middle order haven't found any answers - in intent, direction or approach - when their powerful top order has failed. Against a tight Kings XI attack, Royal Challengers' batsmen were found bereft of belief, not for the first time this season.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Insult_2_Injury on May 7, 2017, 5:06 GMT

    cricfan9910943627 with a couple of hundred runs and a losing captaincy record for the season, I would think the failure started with Kohli. Most of the headlines have been about him fuming and slamming and disappointment at his team. Maybe he just needed to lead from the front. He couldn't do it in the Test series against Australia and here he is again blaming everyone but himself. The other amusing thing is Maxwell batting down the list. Carried on like a 5 yo during the Aussie season about how he should bat in the top 4. Here he is as Captain down the list and barely bowling (Thank God). Might be learning something about team cricket after all. Hopefully he'll take it like a man when he gets dropped from the Aussie XI before the next season, as they need an all-rounder not a bits & pieces 'sometimes' player.

  • cricfan5549624204 on May 6, 2017, 17:51 GMT

    @CRICFAN33638999.Kohli has only started to lead India in limited over matches. Please wait to see results. We all saw what happened in tests under his captaincy. Don't forget India lost four out of four twice under Dhoni, which was never there from Dada's reign. Dhoni is,no doubt, a very good captain for India especially in limited over matches. Comparison between Dhoni and Kohli is too early to do.

  • cricfan44810102 on May 6, 2017, 14:53 GMT

    Gayle is well past his best like zaheer Khan and Ian Bell time for some youngster's

  • cricfan2085613759 on May 6, 2017, 10:56 GMT

    Bangalore has allways 200 Runs wicket.... chasing 180 plus score was also not difficult. but this year wicket is not a traditional pata one and 150 runs is wining score but some how RCB team management is not accepting it

  • MURALIVANKADARI on May 6, 2017, 10:53 GMT

    I think RCB is in demoralized state that let them in the yesterday's match. The big three went for big shots and got out. If one out of VK and ADB were there for some time, they could have sailed home. Hope they will atleast one game before the season ends. But the biggest worry for India/South Africa is the form of VK/ADB's form and no doubt these two are to perform well in the CT. Let us hope VK/ADB for get this IPL after having great season last year.

  • cricfan9910943627 on May 6, 2017, 10:49 GMT

    RCB should retain Kohli, Rahul & Chahal rest are failures & don't have any future.

  • cricfan00740873 on May 6, 2017, 9:39 GMT

    Does anybody think Rcb win their last 2 games?

  • Raveey_ on May 6, 2017, 8:56 GMT

    Does anyone know why Avesh is not getting picked? ( Injured? Not good enough? )

  • SaifKoreshi on May 6, 2017, 8:34 GMT

    I think the ground staff should try making the pitch easier for batting , kohli can only play on flat tracks. If the pitch is the slightest bit challenging - it will look as if its the first time he's held a cricket bat. Please ground staff help him out otherwise we will see him continuously failing

  • CricketChat on May 6, 2017, 8:26 GMT

    RCB definitely came to the end of their relevance. It's time to break up the team and completely revamp it, starting with the skipper. I expect to see ton of changes next year.

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