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RCB’s decline continues

- MoM Sandeep takes three for 15 in KXIP’s five-wicket win

Dubai: Kings XI Punjab continued their winning streak with a facile five-wicket victory to strengthen their position at the top of the heap as Royal Challengers Bangalore were left licking their wounds after yet another loss in the Indian Premier League, here, on Monday.

Chasing a modest 125, the Punjab outfit completed the task with seven balls to spare in a low-scoring game for their fifth straight win, at the Dubai International Stadium.

The KXIP bowlers set up the match with another disciplined performance, restricting RCB to 124 for eight.

Man of the Match Sandeep Sharma led with impressive figures of three for 15 while Rishi Dhawan and Mitchell Johnson chipped in with two wickets apiece. Lakshmipathy Balaji picked the other wicket.

When their turn to bat came, Virender Sehwag had raced to a 26-ball 32 with four boundaries before he got out caught behind. Replays, though, suggested there was no outside edge. David Miller made 20 off 26 balls and hit as many fours as Sehwag.

After their famed batting line-up came a cropper, RCB bowlers tried to make a match of it by picking up a few wickets. That they got the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha and Glenn Maxwell, the man in red-hot form, were largely due to Mitchell Starc’s brilliant fielding in the deep.

Both Saha and Maxwell tried to target the area behind square but Starc had other ideas as he pulled off a couple of blinders off Varun Aaron’s bowling.

Sehwag and Miller put on 45 runs for the fourth wicket, the match’s highest partnership, to put the table-toppers on track. But young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal struck twice in the 13th over to keep his side optimistic about breaking the run of defeats.

In the end however, the total did not prove to be enough for RCB as the in-form opposition secured full points after a bit of a wobble.

Captain George Bailey remained unbeaten on 16 while Dhawan, after a good outing with the ball, hit three crucial boundaries in his brisk unbeaten 23.

Needing 10 off 12 balls, Bailey guided a poor Aaron delivery towards fine-leg to take his side to brink of victory, before Dhawan completed the chase.

Earlier, having missed the team’s first four games with a hamstring injury, Chris Gayle attacked from the word go, picking 20 runs in the first over. But that’s all he could make as the left-handed batsman fell in the next over.

Yuvraj Singh (35) top-scored for RCB with the help of three fours and a six while facing 32 balls.

Earlier, RCB had a rollicking first over with the returning Gayle picking Glenn Maxwell for special treatment.

The first two boundaries were not convincing but the sixes over long-on and long-off had Gayle written all over them.

RCB’s joy was short-lived though as Sharma cut short the towering Jamaican’s stay after he missed the line to be bowled off a delivery that swung away from the left-hander.

More blows awaited RCB as they lost their skipper Virat Kohli cheaply, Sharma being the bowler again. The 20-year-old medium pacer then accounted for Parthiv Patel, before Rishi Dhawan joined in the party, removing the dangerous AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh in quick succession.

Pace spearhead Johnson and Balaji then struck to make matters worse for RCB.

Kohli’s was a debatable decision, as the ball seemed to be going down the leg side. The batsman looked frustrated as he made his way back to the dressing room.

Takawale poked at a length ball and got a thick edge that was duly taken by wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha.

While going for big drive on the up, Patel edged one to the ’keeper, leaving RCB precariously placed at 26 for four.

RCB put up a brief resistance before De Villiers found Maxwell at backward point. The South African put on 41 runs for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj, who was dismissed by Dhawan even before the batting team could cross 100.

Albie Morkel (15) and Varun Aaron (11) took the score past 120.