Pune: Any hopes Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had of qualifying for the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs virtually ended after they lost by 61 runs to Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Saturday.
The 2017 edition of the IPL has been a disappointing one for the Bangalore franchise, losing seven of their 10 outings so far to be virtually knocked out of the race to the play-offs. Pune, on the other hand kept their play-off dreams alive to stay at the fourth spot after registering their fifth win from nine matches.
Chasing a decent 158, RCB were in self-destructive mode losing wickets at regular intervals with skipper Virat Kohli (55) fighting a lone battle to take the team through.
Kohli, who went in to open the innings with Australian Travis Head (2), failed to find the support at the other end as the Pune bowlers seized the momentum to their favour.
Medium pacer Jaydev Unadkat started the downfall for the visitors with the wicket of Head, who chopped one to the stumps before New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson packed back the dangerous AB de Villiers (3) after the South African added RCB's highest partnership of 21 runs for the second wicket with Kohli.
New man Kedar Jadhav (7) looked good in the middle before a lack of communication between him and the skipper cost Bangalore their third wicket.
Rookie off-spinner Washington Sundar immediately jolted the visitors with the wicket of Sachin Baby (2), brilliantly caught by a diving Steve Smith before Furguson saw the back of Stuart Binny (1) to reduce the men in red and black to 49/5.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir then joined the party with the wickets of Pawan Negi (3), Adam Milne (5) and Samuel Badree (2) to further dent RCB's hopes.
Struggling at 82/8, Kohli, who by then had reached his half century, the lone RCB batsman to get to the double figures also lost his focus to be caught at sweeper cover by Mayank Agarwal off Daniel Christian after striking four boundaries and a six.
Towards the end, tailenders Yuzvendra Chahal (4 not out) and Sreenath Aravind (8 not out) had little answer to the mounting asking rate as RCB finished at 96/9.
Earlier, Pune rode on skipper Smith's 45 and Manoj Tiwary's unbeaten 44 to reach 157/3 after being sent in to bat.
The home side failed to find the momentum against the RCB bowlers, who stuck to a perfect line and length as the last five overs yielded just 46 runs for the home side.
Ajinkya Rahane's (6) dismal run continued to haunt Pune before opener Rahul Tripathi (37) cashed in on the dropped chance by Virat Kohli at 11, to help the hosts cross the 50-run mark with Smith.
Smith, who looked in good touch raised a 40-run second wicket stand with Tripathi before the Maharashtra right-hander spoilt another good start to be caught behind by Kedar Jadhav off left-arm spinner Pawan Negi.
The fall of Tripathi, who slammed four boundaries and a six during his 28-ball knock, however dried up the boundaries for Pune before Smith broke the shackles in the 12th over, by spanking Badree for a flat six and two consecutive fours.
New man Tiwary, promoted to No.4 joined the party by taking Yuzvendra Chahal to the cleaners before Smith added two more fours off Stuart Binny as the third wicket partnership flourished to 50 off 32 balls.
Struggling to find the momentum at 115/3 after 16 overs, Pune needed Mahendra Singh Dhoni (21 not out) and Tiwary to press on the accelerator and the former skipper responded in style by muscling Sreenath Aravind for a flat straight six.