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Royal Challengers defend 157 despite Pant's belligerence

Royal Challengers Bangalore 157 for 8 (Jadhav 69, Morris 3-21) beat Delhi Daredevils 142 for 9 (Pant 57, Negi 2-3) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

IPL 2017 witnessed its second thriller in five games. Royal Challengers defending a meagre 157, by the M Chinnaswamy Stadium's standards, caught Delhi Daredevils by the throat and strangled the life out of their chase to register a 15-run victory, their first win of the tournament. Daredevils needed 21 off the final two overs with Rishabh Pant, in tremendous hitting form, and Amit Mishra at the crease. Shane Watson conceded two runs off the penultimate over, and Pawan Negi allowed just three runs off the final over, his first of the season. For the first time since 2013, a team had successfully defended under 160 in the IPL at this ground.

Royal Challengers surprised many when they chose to bat, and were quickly reduced to 55 for 3 in the ninth over. Kedar Jadhav not only resurrected a faltering innings but put his team on course for a par score at this ground. But the majority of the work was done by Royal Challengers' bowlers, all of who contributed with at least a wicket each, to complete one of the toughest tasks in the IPL.

Ignoring the data

In the tournament opener, both teams - Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore - wanted to chase. Sunrisers were put in but negated that disadvantage by batting Royal Challengers out of the game.

On a small ground, in terrific batting conditions, Royal Challengers wanted to ensure they didn't suffer the same fate. In a data-driven format, they ignored all the stats and opted to chase. It was only the second time a team had batted first at this ground since IPL 2015 - the only other time was the 2016 IPL final.

In the previous 10 T20s at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, five totals of over 200 have been defended and the five under 200 have been chased down. Royal Challengers knew their target. But had no fail-safe if their batting malfunctioned.

One bull, two bears

Royal Challengers opened with their best batsmen in the XI - Chris Gayle and Shane Watson. Both looked fluent, choosing timing over their preferred modus operandi of brute force. It worked well until Gayle mis-timed a full toss from Chris Morris to mid-off. Mandeep Singh chopped on. Shane Watson was stumped for just the third time in the IPL. Shahbaz Nadeem delivered 4-0-13-1, his most economical four-over figures in the IPL. It was Royal Challengers' first bear market.

Then came Jadhav: full of form, confidence and belief. All of it was discernible with his timing and shot selection despite Royal Challengers' shaky footing. He brought out the inside-out lofted drives and the off-balance flicks through midwicket. Jadhav's natural flair was uninhibited. He struck five fours and five sixes in his 37-ball 69. Suddenly a score of close to 180 seemed possible.

Clichéd as it may be, wickets turned the game again. Zaheer Khan had Stuart Binny caught at midwicket and then flummoxed Jadhav with a slower ball. In between, he contributed to debutant Vishnu Vinod's run-out. Seventeen of Chris Morris' 24 deliveries were dot balls as he returned figures of 3 for 21. The last four overs yielded just 23, and Royal Challengers finished with an under-par 157.

Another impressive debut

Having impressed with his pace in the Big Bash League for Adelaide Strikers, Billy Stanlake was bought by Royal Challengers for his base price INR 30 lakh, in the second round of the auction. Stanlake used possibly the quickest surface in the competition to zip through Daredevils' top order with accuracy and sufficient lateral movement. He went through Karun Nair's defense with a length delivery that moved away and then harried Sanju Samson for pace with a short delivery, picking up two wickets to keep a packed crowd squealing.

Hit and miss

Pant smashed his first ball of the season for a massive six over midwicket. Even as his innings wore on, his timing didn't fail him. Daredevils' middle and lower order crumbled around him, but he kept his composure to take his team within 21 with two overs remaining. Bowling the penultimate over, Watson's plan was clear: beat or get under the bat outside off. He varied his lengths and pace to concede just two runs, including four dot balls to Mishra.

With 18 to defend off the final over, the game was still not done. Watson opted for the left-arm spin of Negi to Pant. "Pant had not seen him all night. Iqbal Abdulla had bowled three overs to him," Watson explained at the post-match presentation. Negi's dart hit leg stump off the first ball, and Watson was vindicated.

Below-par score?

22.04.15

The last time a team successfully defended a score under 200 in an IPL match in Bangalore

Take it away

14

Number of times, out of his last 16 IPL dismissals, that Watson has fallen to spinners who take the ball away: left-arm orthodox or right-arm legspinner

Not a bat-first ground

5

Number of times sides have chosen to bat in night games in Bangalore. Then again, this is how SRH won last year's final

Wood, RCB

9-1

The head to head between these teams in the last 10 matches. RCB lead