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IANS

A fine knock by Faf du Plessis (96 off 64) followed by a sensational bowling effort by Josh Hazlewood (4/25) led Royal Challengers Bangalore to a hard-fought 18-run win over Lucknow Super Giants in an IPL 2022 match at the D.Y. Patil Stadium, here on Tuesday.

It was RCB's fifth win in the ongoing IPL season and they jumped up to the second spot on the table with 10 points.

Leading from the front, skipper du Plessis played a terrific knock (96 off 64) and steered Royal Challengers Bangalore to 181-6 in 20 overs. Invited to bat first, RCB were off to a terrible start as they lost three wickets -- Anuj Rawat (4), Virat Kohli (0) and Glenn Maxwell (23) inside the powerplay. At 44/3 after 5.2 overs, RCB were in a spot of bother but du Plessis took on the mantle of batting through the innings.

He anchored the innings to perfection by stitching together a crucial 70-run stand for the fifth wicket with Shahbaz Ahmed (26) and a 49-run partnership with Dinesh Karthik (13 not out off 8) for the sixth wicket, helping RCB post a competitive total. He was out on the penultimate ball of the final over.

Chasing a competitive total, Lucknow didn't get off to a good start as Josh Hazlewood sent Quinton de Kock (3) back to the pavilion in the 3rd over of the innings. Manish Pandey (6), who came to bat next also couldn't do much and fell to a back-of-length ball bowled by Hazlewood as LSG were reduced to 33-2.

From there on, K.L. Rahul and Krunal Pandya needed to rebuild the Lucknow innings and they did that by adding 31 for the third wicket in just three overs before Harshal Patel got the prized wicket of the LSG captain with one down the leg side.

Rahul (30 off 24) was looking to defend the ball but got a faint edge to the 'keeper down the leg side. The keeper never appealed but RCB went for the review and got the decision right.

After Rahul's wicket, Krunal took charge of LSG's chase and played his shots to keep his side's hopes alive. However, Deepak Hooda (13) struggled at the other end and was unable to keep the scoreboard ticking and his struggle eventually came to an end in Siraj's third over. LSG slid down further in the chase when Krunal Pandya (42 off 28) was dismissed by Glenn Maxwell in the 14th over.

The asking rate climbed steadily and Lucknow needed a special effort from their lower-order batters. With 54 needed off the last 4 overs, young Ayush Badoni (13) had to take his chances but he nicked a Hazlewood delivery to Dinesh Karthik while playing an adventurous shot. The wicket of Badoni brought Jason Holder to the crease with Marcus Stoinis. The two batters faced a severe challenge in Hazlewood and Harshal in the death overs.

Continuing his superb bowling spell, Hazlewood clean bowled Stoinis in the 19th over. In the end, it was too much for Holder (16 off 8) and Dushmantha Chameera (1 not out) as Lucknow were restricted to 163/8 in 20 overs, losing by 18 runs. Apart from Hazlewood, Harshal Patel (47/2), Glenn Maxwell (1/11), and Mohammed Siraj (1/31) also picked important wickets for RCB.

Earlier in the day, In the fifth ball of the very first over of the innings, Dushmantha Chameera gave Lucknow their first breakthrough by removing Anuj Rawat (4), who wanted to clear mid-off but didn't connect well as K.L Rahul took a good low catch.

Virat Kohli, who came to bat next, went for a first-ball duck in the next delivery of the same over. It was a back-of-a-length outside off delivery and Kohli just pushed that for a simple catch to the fielder at point.

With 7-2 after the end of the first over, RCB were in deep trouble but skipper Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell decided to counter-attack. Both batters were finding the boundaries in almost every over and also rotated the strike well to bring RCB back on track.

But, Krunal Pandya struck in the last over of the powerplay to end the promising innings of Maxwell (23 off 11), who got out while attempting a reverse sweep as Jason Holder plucked a stunner inside the 30-yard-circle. The next batter Suyash Prabhudessai (10) didn't last long either as Holder dismissed him to reduce RCB to 62-4 after 7.2 overs.

From there on, du Plessis needed support from the other end and Shahbaz Ahmed did that perfectly. The duo mixed caution with aggression and hit timely boundaries along with their strike rotation to lead RCB's recovery. Du Plessis, in particular, was very aggressive against Ravi Bishnoi and dealt in fours and sixes against the leg-spinner to bring his half-century in 40 balls in the 14th over.

With both du Plessis and Shahbaz set at the crease, RCB were looking for a strong finish. But an excellent fielding effort by K.L. Rahul ended Shahbaz's stay in the middle as he was run out on 26.

After Shahbaz's wicket, the veteran Proteas batter switched gears in the slog overs and along with the in-form Dinesh Karthik (13 not out), took RCB to 181-6 in the stipulated 20 overs. Du Plessis came close to scoring his maiden IPL century but was dismissed by Holder with one ball left in the innings -- the second time he has got out for 96 in the IPL.

Jason Holder (2/25) and Dushmantha Chameera (2/31) picked two wickets each while Krunal Pandya (1/29) got one wicket for Lucknow.

Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 181/6 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 96, Shahbaz Ahmed 26; Jason Holder 2/25) beat Lucknow Super Giants 163/8 in 20 overs (Krunal Pandya 42, K.L. Rahul 30; Josh Hazlewood 4/25) by 18 runs

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