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49th Match (N), Pune, May 04, 2022, Indian Premier League

RCB won by 13 runs


Sharp bowling show lifts Royal Challengers Bangalore into top four

Super Kings lose their way after 54-run opening stand to leave their playoffs hopes hanging by a thread

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Josh Hazlewood celebrates after effectively sealing the game for RCB by removing CSK's captain, MS Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2022, Pune, May 4, 2022

Josh Hazlewood celebrates after effectively sealing the game for RCB by removing CSK captain MS Dhoni  •  BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore 173 for 8 (Lomror 42, du Plessis 38, Kolhi 30, Theekshana 3-27) beat Chennai Super Kings 160 for 8 (Conway 56, Moeen 34, Harshal 3-35) by 13 runs
Royal Challengers Bangalore halted a run of three consecutive defeats to boost their play-offs hope thanks to a scrappy win against Chennai Super Kings in Pune, iced by a death-bowling masterclass from Josh Hazlewood and Harshal Patel.
Super Kings needed 56 runs off 30 balls with six wickets in hand when the final strategic timeout was taken in their run chase but then lost their way, losing three wickets for 25 runs across the next five overs. Harshal was hit for two sixes in the final over to close the margin of defeat but in dismissing Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja, he had already won the game for them.
Royal Challengers had scrapped their way to 173 for 8 after being asked to bat first, as five batters passed 20 but Mahipal Lomror top-scored with 42 off 27 balls. They had started brightly, with their highest opening stand and highest powerplay total of the season, but floundered against spin in the middle overs.
Lomror's 44-run stand with Rajat Patidar kept them ticking before Maheesh Theekshana struck three times in the 19th over, but Dinesh Karthik took 16 runs from the final over to take them to a defendable total.
Super Kings are mathematically still in contention for the play-offs but will need a miracle after seven defeats in their first ten games, while this result sees Royal Challengers return to the play-off positions for the time being - though with a poor net run-rate and having played a game more than their nearest contenders, they will need to finish the group stages strongly.
Royal Challengers lose their way
Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli made a nervy start, both picking up streaky boundaries via the edge of the bat as MS Dhoni used his seamers with the new ball, but then pushed on: Kohli launched Simarjeet Singh for six over the covers, while du Plessis cashed in against Mukesh Choudhary, taking 18 runs from his third over.
But as has often been the case this season, they struggled against spin with the fingerspinners finding some grip from a good length: du Plessis holed out to deep midwicket off Moeen, while Kohli's own struggles with the bat continued.
After calling Glenn Maxwell through for a single that was never there and seeing him run out by Robin Uthappa, he was bowled through the gate by a sharply-spun offbreak from Moeen for a scratchy 30 off 33 balls. From 51 for 0 after five overs, Royal Challengers had stuttered to 79 for 3 after 10.
Lomror, Karthik lead rebuild
Lomror was promoted to No. 4 after a cameo finishing the innings at No. 7 against Gujarat Titans and started brightly, hitting Moeen back over his head for four and slog-sweeping Theekshana for six after knocking the ball around alongside Patidar. Choudhary's brilliant catch at deep square leg brought in Karthik with 4.5 overs remaining, but Dhoni had planned accordingly.
Clearly conscious of Karthik's strength against pace and relative weakness against spin - as well as his seamers' inexperience at the death - Dhoni held Theekshana's final two overs back for the 17th and 19th. He conceded only eight runs - six of them scored by Karthik, off seven balls - and struck three times in his final over, removing Lomror, Wanindu Hasaranga and Shahbaz Ahmed.
But Lomror had hit Pretorius for four and six - and been dropped by Jadeja - in the 18th to keep the scoreboard moving and after surviving an incredibly tight review for lbw off the first ball of the final over, Karthik whacked him over deep midwicket twice to take Royal Challengers to 173.
Conway's cruise
Dropped one innings into his IPL career, Devon Conway marked his return to the side with 85 not out against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday and made it back-to-back half-centuries on Wednesday night with a fluent 56. He started brightly, reverse-sweeping then sweeping Shahbaz for fours in the first over of the chase, and put on 51 for the first wicket alongside Ruturaj Gaikwad.
As Royal Challengers had done, Super Kings lost their way through the middle overs against spin, and Maxwell in particular who bowled four tight overs and removed both Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu, cramping them for room from around the wicket. But with Conway there and the required rate intact, Super Kings were always in the game.
Hazlewood, Harshal finish the job
du Plessis held Harshal back until the 13th over, then ensured he would bowl three of the last five by throwing the ball to Hasaranga for the 15th. He had been expensive, hit for three sixes in his first two overs, but du Plessis' gamble paid off: Hasaranga went full, but Conway could not clear Shahbaz at deep backward square leg.
Moeen looked as though he had found his rhythm when he lofted Hasaranga's final ball down the ground for six, but Super Kings capitulated after the time-out. Bowling his variations from around the wicket, Harshal had Jadeja well caught by Kohli off a skier and Moeen pouched at extra cover, the ball after swiping him for six over the leg side.
When Hazlewood had Dhoni caught at deep midwicket with the first ball of the 19th over, the game was effectively over and his four overs had been crucial: he went for only 19 runs, bowling his hard lengths in the powerplay and at the death; Pretorius' top-edged pull off his penultimate ball was the only boundary he conceded.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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