Royal Challengers Bangalore 181 for 6 (du Plessis 96, Holder 2-25, Chameera 2-31) beat Lucknow Super Giants 163 for 8 (Krunal 42, Hazlewood 4-25, Harshal 2-47) by 18 runs
Faf du Plessis equalled his highest IPL score with a supremely paced innings of 96 from 64 balls, as Royal Challengers Bangalore restated their top-of-the-table credentials with an emphatic 18-run victory over fellow high-fliers Lucknow Super Giants.
On a high-kicking surface at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, RCB overcame the loss of two wickets in the first over of the match to post a competitive total of 181 for 6, which was then put into context by a supreme display of seam bowling from Josh Hazlewood, who picked off a wicket in each of his overs for figures of 4 for 25.
Though Super Giants challenged through a hard-hitting knock of 42 off 28 balls from Krunal Pandya, they lost wickets at all-too-frequent intervals, and when Marcus Stoinis fell in frustrated circumstances with 34 needed from the final two overs, their challenge fell away, despite two final-over sixes from Jason Holder.
Kohli brings up an unwanted century
Dushmantha Chameera was the first seamer of the evening to discover the joys of a lively surface. By the time the first over of the match was done, Chameera was on a hat-trick thanks to the early scalps of Anuj Rawat and Virat Kohli … whose first-ball duck brought up perhaps the most unwanted century of his career.
Since making 136 against Bangladesh in November 2019, Kohli has now played exactly 100 matches without adding to that tally of hundreds - 17 Tests, 21 ODIs, 25 T20Is and 37 IPL games. This time he arrived at the crease after five legal deliveries, in which Rawat - unusually charged with facing the first ball - had lumped a drive through the line for four before scuffing a fuller-length ball to a diving Rahul at mid-off.
One ball later, a stunned silence enveloped the stadium, as Chameera dragged back a hard length, found a hint of away movement, and lured a loose glide to point as Kohli sought to put bat through ball from the outset, but succeeded only in taking his record for this year's tournament to 119 runs at 19.83. With the score at 7 for 2, du Plessis at the other end had yet to face a ball. He'd make amends soon enough.
Du Plessis presses the accelerator
Aside from falling agonisingly short of his century, du Plessis could hardly have crafted a more perfectly paced knock. He stayed composed through the chaos of an otherwise malfunctioning powerplay, and accelerated smoothly into his evening's work, most particularly from the moment he launched an off-colour Ravi Bishnoi for six over long-on to move to the brink of his half-century in the 14th over.
Up until that moment, he had cruised along to 43 from 38 balls, with six cherry-picked boundaries - all but one of them eased through the off-side as he feasted in particular on the over-pitched delivery. Thereafter, du Plessis smashed a further 53 from 26 - five more fours and a thudding drive for six off Krunal Pandya, for an overall strike-rate of exactly 150, as RCB transformed a faltering scoreline of 62 for 4 into a serviceable target of 182.
He was aided in that rebuild by Glenn Maxwell, who counterattacked after the two first-over wickets with 23 off 11, and Shahbaz Ahmed, who made 26 from 22 in a fifth-wicket stand of 70, while Dinesh Karthik lifted his tally for the tournament to 210 runs from 102 balls with 13 not out from 8. But after Stoinis spilled a low chance at backward square to reprieve Karthik off the deserving Jason Holder, he made amends in the same position from the penultimate ball of the innings.
Leaning back into a pull to the long side of the ground, du Plessis couldn't get on top of another rising delivery from Holder, whose 6'8" frame made superb use of a springy pitch all evening long for figures of 2 for 25 in four overs. It meant that du Plessis had equalled his IPL-best of 96, made for Chennai Super Kings against Kings XI Punjab in 2019, but was still waiting for that elusive maiden hundred.
Hazlewood hits his lengths
On a Test-match wicket, bring out the Test-match players. With pace and bounce in abundance, this was a surface tailor-made for a bowler of Hazlewood's pedigree. His evening's work began in the third over of the reply, and he struck with his fifth ball, as Quinton de Kock snicked a beautiful length slanted across his left-handed bows, for Maxwell at slip to pouch a sharp chance with the keeper Karthik threatening to dive across him.
Manish Pandey followed in his next over, with a weak pull to midwicket, and when Hazlewood returned at the death for the 17th over, a knuckle ball on a wide line did for Ayush Badoni. The final nail in Lucknow's coffin, however, came in a moment of mild controversy, with Hazlewood's fellow Aussie, Marcus Stoinis, in his sights.
Facing up to the first ball of the 19th over, with 34 runs still needed, Stoinis feinted to the off-side, and Hazlewood saw him coming and speared his delivery further out wide. Umpire Chris Gaffaney gave the bowler the benefit of the doubt, to the gritted-teeth frustration of the batter. One ball later, however, Stoinis exploded as the chase went up in smoke. Once again, he moved across to the off side, but over-compensated due to the previous call, and was bowled round his legs to a huge, and pointed, expletive for 24 from 15.
It was, however, a dismissal in keeping with Lucknow's chase, in which a highest partnership of 36 revealed RCB's ability to winkle out key wickets at key moments. Few were more crucial than Harshal Patel's moment of good fortune at the end of a leaky first over.
Moments after a wild bouncer had soared away for five wides, Harshal induced a leg-side strangle to see off the dangerous KL Rahul for 30, via a belated review. Krunal kept the pursuit on track for a while, with a brace of sixes in consecutive overs off spinners Shabhaz and Wanindu Hasaranga, the latter a savage extension of the arms through long-off. But when Maxwell returned for his second over, a hole-out to deep midwicket left his side with too much ground to make up.