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IPL 2023: Virat, Du Plessis lead RCB to thumping 8-wicket win over SRH, boost playoff hopes

 Virat Kohli’s excellent century (100 off 63) and Faf du Plessis’ fine fifty (71 off 47) outclassed Heinrich Klaasen’s hundred and led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to a thumping eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Match No. 65 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, here on Thursday.

With this win, RCB jumped to the fourth position in the table having 14 points in 13 matches and boosted their Playoff chances. On the other hand, SRH remained at the bottom of the table with just four wins in 13 games.

South African wicket-keeper batter Klaasen’s maiden IPL century (104 off 51) propelled Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to 186/5 in 20 overs. After Klaasen, Harry Brook (27 off 19) was the second-best scorer for SRH. Both Klaasen and Brook stitched a quickfire stand of 74 runs for the fourth wicket. On the other hand, Michael Bracewell was the most successful bowler for RCB with his superb 2-13.

Chasing 187 to win, openers Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis gave RCB a flying start, scoring 64/0 after 6 overs. It was Kohli, who started the show for RCB, hitting four boundaries in the first two overs bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Abhishek Sharma.

Natarajan bowled a decent over to concede just 7 runs. However, both Du Plessis and Kohli went after Kartik Tyagi, hammering the young pacer for four boundaries in an over. During the process, Faf miscued his shot but Glenn Philips couldn’t get a hold of the ball.

Both Kohli and Faf pierced the gaps with surgical precision and kept on picking boundaries at their will as RCB were moving strongly in the run chase. With runs flowing from both ends, SRH skipper Markram was forced to make frequent bowling changes. Against debutant Nitish Kumar, spinner Mayank Dagar, openers were a bit cautious but they kept the score-board ticking to take RCB to 95/0 after 10 overs.

Philips came to bowl the 12th over and both Kohli and Faf completed their respective fifties in that over and RCB were cruising towards the title. It seemed like RCB brought their clinical best to the business end of the tournament courtesy Kohli and Du Plessis, who continued their batting carnage as the chasing team were 150/0 after 15 overs.

Nothing was going in SRH’s favour as Virat brought his fantastic century after a long wait of four years. It was Kohli’s sixth hundred in the IPL, drawing level with Chris Gayle and he stitched a massive opening partnership of 172 runs with Faf du Plessis.

In the very next delivery after his century, Kohli got out to Bhuvneshwar in the fifth ball of the 18th over but he had done more than enough for his side. Though Du Plessis was dismissed by Natarajan in the next over, the likes of Glenn Maxwell (5 not out) and Michael Bracewell (4 not out) took RCB over the victory line with four balls to spare.

Earlier, put in to bat first, Sunrisers Hyderabad were off to a slow start as RCB pacers Mohammed Siraj and Wayne Parnell kept the openers — Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi — on a tight leash.

SRH got some momentum in Parnell’s second over with the openers hitting the pacer for 16 runs. However, New Zealand spinner Bracewell dismissed both openers in his first over to put a halt to the scoring rate.

Abhishek (11) got out while playing a cut shot while Tripathi (15) could only loft his shot to short fine-leg for a catch, leaving SRH at 28/2 after 4.3 overs. The in-form Heinrich Klaasen then came to the party and hammered Shahbaz Ahmed for 16 off his first over, as SRH ended the Power-play with 49-2.

The decision from SRH management to send the in-form batter Klaasen up the order paid dividends as he continued his aggressive approach which resulted in a flurry of fours and sixes.

On the other hand, skipper Aiden Markram was enjoying the show from the other end and happily playing the second fiddle as SRH raced to 81/2 after 10 overs.

In the very next over, Klaasen hit leg-spinner Karn Sharma for a six and took a few singles to complete his half-century in just 24 balls. RCB desperately needed a wicket and it was Shahbaz Ahmed, who broke the 76-run stand by removing Markram.

Despite taking Markram’s wicket, RCB didn’t get any respite and new batter Harry Brook also looked in fine touch from the very first ball, which he faced. Brook, who made a comeback to the side after missing a few games, played some classy shots to get sixes and boundaries. On the other hand, Klaasen was in no mood to stop and took the RCB bowlers to the cleaners with SRH reaching 133/3 after 15 overs.

The decision to bring Shahbaz in the 17th over by captain Faf Du Plessis backfired as both Klaasen and Brook clobbered him for 19 runs. Parnell gave big relief to RCB by conceding just 7 runs in his over.

Klaasen eventually smashed a poor delivery by Harshal for a straight six and got his ton off 49 balls. However, Harshal had the last laugh as he bowled a dipping yorker to dismiss Klaasen. Siraj, who was playing on his home ground, then bowled an excellent over, giving just 4 runs and taking the wicket of Glenn Phillips, to keep Sunrisers to 186-5 in 20 overs.

Brief scores:

Sunrisers Hyderabad 186/5 in 20 Overs (Heinrich Klaasen 104, Harry Brook 27; M Bracewell 2-13) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 187/2 in 19.2 overs (Virat Kohli 100, Faf du Plessis 71; T. Natarajan 1-34) by eight wickets.

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