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Kings XI Punjab rode on a solid batting performance by Hashim Amla and skipper Glenn Maxwell to thrash Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by eight wickets in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Holkar Stadium here on Monday. Chasing a 149-run target, Punjab were boosted by an unbeaten half-century by experienced opener Amla and a power-packed innings by Maxwell lower down the order and crossed the line with 33 balls to spare. Amla batted through the innings and remained unbeaten on 58 runs off 38 deliveries, hitting four boundaries and three sixes along the way. Maxwell played a typically explosive innings, smashing 43 runs off 22 balls with three boundaries and four massive hits into the stands. Punjab had a strong start to their chase as the opening pair of Amla and Manan Vohra added 62 runs between them in less than six overs.
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English pacer Tymal Mills struck the first blow for RCB when he trapped Vohra lbw. That put the brakes on Punjab's run rate and they plunged into further trouble when Axar Patel was bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal in the ninth over. That saw Maxwell join Amla in the middle and the duo turned things around with a 72-run stand off just 38 balls. Maxwell finished off things in style, bringing up the winning runs with a six off Chahal as Punjab reached 150/2 in just 14.3 overs. Earlier, Punjab squandered the early advantage as South African maverick A.B. de Villiers unleashed himself in the death overs to help RCB post 148/4 in their 20 overs. Playing his first match of this year's IPL, de Villiers proved his importance for RCB's scheme of things in the tournament, with an unbeaten 89 off 46 balls, laced with three hits to the fence and nine over it.
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Coming out to bat in only the second over of the innings, the Proteas right-hander used all his experience to handle the situation, curbing his natural aggression, to take the side to safety before changing the momentum of the innings in the death overs. Along with all-rounder Stuart Binny (18 not out), de Villiers started the onslaught after the 15th over, when he dealt mostly in sixes, clearing the fence on as many as eight occasions to raise an undefeated 80-run fifth wicket stand. Opting to bat, Bangalore were off to a forgettable start after losing their skipper and opener Shane Watson (1) in the very first over before being reduced to 22/3 by the fifth over. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel provided Punjab with the early wicket of Watson, who inside edged a shortish ball to be back in the dug out. Medium pacer Sandeep Sharma then rocked the visitors with the wicket of the opener Vishnu Vinod (7), who got a top edge to be comfortably caught by Maxwell at mid on.
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The in-form Kedar Jadhav (1) was the next one to follow, when a back of a length delivery from pacer Varun Aaron rapped the Maharashtra batsman on the pads as it missed the flick. Tottering at 22/3, comeback man de Villiers and new batsman Mandeep Singh (28) were made to sweat out, as the Punjab bowlers tightened the noose around the visitors. By the 10th over, the visitors had crawled to 53/3 as the boundaries seemed to have dried up, except for rookie T.Natarajan's over when Mandeep dispatched him for a consecutive six and then a four. With pressure of lifting the run-rate building, Mandeep finally succumbed in his effort to accelerate when he got a top edge off a short delivery from Aaron which stumper Wriddhiman Saha latched on beautifully.
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Mandeep consumed 34 balls for his knock, laced with a four and a six, but more importantly added 46 runs for the fourth wicket with the South African. Mandeep's wicket brought in the dangerous Binny, who complimented the South African quite well as the Punjab bowlers had themselves to blame for bowling too many full deliveries towards the end. For the home side, Aaron returned with figures of 2/21 while Axar Patel and Sandeep Sharma took one wicket apiece.