Sharjah: Glenn Maxwell smashed 57 and then Yuzvendra Chahal spun a web around Punjab Kings as they once again bungled a chase allowing Royal Challengers Bangalore to book an IPL Play-Off berth with a six-run victory.
Maxwell's 34-ball-57 propelled Punjab Kings to 164/7, and then Chahal owned the middle-overs with another game-changing spell of 3/29 which saw KL Rahul's team finish at 158/6.
With 16 points from 12 games, RCB thus became the third team after Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals to make it to the last four stage.
Punjab Kings with 10 points from 13 games can reach 12 points but with a net run-rate of -0.241 and having played one match more than Rajasthan Royals (10 points), Mumbai Indians (10 points) and KKR (10 points before evening game), they will reflect on this season as another opportunity gone by.
It was another close match that Punjab Kings couldn't finish off, and their skipper Rahul needs to own up as his 39 off 35 balls had a negative influence on the chase.
Match after match, Rahul has been taking the game deep and then frittering away the advantage after which the below-par middle-order of Punjab Kings, arguably the worst in this edition, is bungling up big time.
Punjab Kings were 91 for no loss in the 11th over before Rahul's indiscreet shot selection — he tried to hit left-arm spinner Sahbaz Ahmed against the turn — changed the course of the match.
His opening partner Mayank Agarwal (57 off 42 balls) was more attacking but was fooled by Chahal's clever variation of pace as he top edged a sweep.
Nicholas Pooran rode is luck but played a rash sweep shot off Chahal, while Sarfaraz Khan was deceived by a conventional leg-break.
Punjab needed 27 from the last two overs; Mohammed Siraj bowled an impressive penultimate over to bring down the equation down to 19 in the final over. Harshal Patel defended it well by taking the pace off his deliveries.
Earlier, Glenn Maxwell's six-hitting prowess was on display as his 33-ball 57 propelled RCB to 164/7.
Maxwell, who is in the midst of one of his best IPL seasons, hit four sixes and three fours, to complete 50 off 29 balls. AB De Villiers and Maxwell conjured up 73 runs for the fourth wicket to lay the foundation of RCB's innings after the dismissals of Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal. Kohli and Paddikal had posted a threatening half-century stand. But Punjab pegged RCB back by picking three quick wickets, all by Moises Henriques (3/12 in 4 overs). He first cleaned up Kohli and off the next ball forced Dan Christian to give a regulation catch to Sarfaraz Khan. Henriques then dismissed Padikkal, who nicked one to Rahul, as RCB tottered at 73/3. Enter Maxwell. And as he has often done the season, he played a decisive innings to take RCB past the 160 mark.
Brief Scores: RCB 164/7 (G Maxwell 57, D Padikkal 40; M Henriques 3/12, M Shami 3/39) beat PK 158/6 (K Rahul 39, M Agarwal 57) by six runs
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