Pune, May 11: Pune Warriors slumped to their seventh straight defeat this season after losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore by 35 runs in game 57 played at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune.
Despite making five changes to their side, Warriors couldn't stop their miserable run this season. Smith led the side in Ganguly's absence with a young inexperienced team, but it proved difficult to stop Gayle firing early on and face their strong bowling attack.
Though statistically, RCB possess the highest economy rate of approx 8.50, it looks like they have started to spark a bit in recent matches, but both against poor batting sides Mumbai Indians and now Warriors, who were reduced to 138/9 in 20 overs.
Chasing 174, Warriors were shocked in the opening over. RCB speedster Zaheer Khan dismissed opener Mohnish Mishra (4) and Manish Pandey (0) in the space of three balls.
A few overs later, Karnataka pacer Vinay Kumar claimed the important wicket of Michael Clarke (13). Clarke's dismissal left Warriors struggling at 22/3 while extra pressure mounted over wicketkeeper batman Robin Uthappa. RCB's pace attack struck yet again to put the opposition in immense trouble.
Uthappa, who top-scored for Pune with a quick 23-ball 38 smashing five fours and a six, also added a half-century stand with Anustup Majumdar (31). Spin legend Muttaih Muralitharan gave RCB the breakthrough dismissing Uthappa. All-Rounder Angelo Mathews (4) was stumped off KP Appanna.
Warriors batsmen struggled later on after the fall of Majumdar (31). With the fall of wickets in quick intervals, stand-in skipper Steven Smith remained unbeaten at 24 just to see his side slump to yet another defeat.
Apart from two early strikes from Zaheer, Vinay Kumar claimed three wickets for 32 runs in his four-over spell. As expected, Muralitharan claimed two wickets for just 16 runs while off-spinner KP Appanna and Harshal Patel took one wicket each.
With this victory, RCB have jumped to third spot with 15 points in 13 matches while the Warriors are on eighth position and are certainly out of IPL 5.
Royal Challengers Bangalore innings report
Gayle storm hit Pune early on as the Jamaican giant cruised to fifty in just 24 balls. The West Indian, along with Tillakaratne Dilshan, added a quick 80-run opening stand to set the tone for RCB. Gayle smashed six sixes and three fours in his blistering 31-ball 57 knock.
Despite cruising at 11 runs per over in the first six, RCB's run-rate slipped after the dismissal of Gayle (31-ball 57). Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli (9) failed to continue the run-flow for RCB. Ultimately falling short of 20-30 odd runs.
Left-hand batsman Saurab Tiwary, who has been inconsistent this season, scored a steady unbeaten 36-off-30-balls and also added a vital 43-run stand for the third wicket along with Dishan. The Sri Lankan was run-out after a mix up with Tiwary. Dishan scored a steady 44-ball 53 with four boundaries and a six.
South Africa's AB de Villiers (9) and Tiwary helped RCB cross the 170-mark towards the end with an unbeaten 16-ball 35 run partnership.
Angelo Mathews posted impressive figures for Pune with the crucial wicket of Gayle and an economy rate of 4.66 in his three-over spell.
Pune Warriors stand-in skipper Steven Smith, who chose to bowl against Royal Challengers Bangalore, said that Warriors captain Sourav Ganguly opted to 'rest himself' for this clash.
Rain had delayed the start of play by an hour. Earlier, heavy rain poured down soon after the toss forcing groundsmen to cover the pitch.
Pune Warriors owner Subrata Roy earlier said that Ganguly would sit out of the remaining games to give an opportunity for youngsters in the squad.
Warriors stand-in skipper Smith said Sourav Ganguly has rested himself for this match. Pune have made several changes bringing in Mohnish Mishra and Krishnakant Upadhya, both are playing their first match this season while leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and pacer Alfonso Thomas return to the playing XI.
Besides Ganguly, Ashish Nehra, Murali Karthik, Wayne Parnell and Mithun Manhas have been benched.
Royal Challengers have brought in KP Appanna for injured Syed Mohammad.
Pune Warriors: Steven Smith (Captain), Michael Clarke, Mohnish Mishra, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa (wk), Angelo Mathews, Anustup Majumdar, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Alfonso Thomas.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, KP Appanna, Harshal Patel, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Zaheer Khan, Saurab Tiwary, Muttiah Muralitharan, R Vinay Kumar.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and Shavir Tarapore (India)
Third umpire: Vineet Kulkarni (India)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)