MOHALI: Kevin Pietersen (66 not out) got three lives before notching up his maiden Indian Premier League half-century and helping Royal Challengers Bangalore score a comprehensive six-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab on Friday night.
Pietersen, who was dropped thrice while on 36, 47 and 50, played sheet anchor with two crucial partnerships — 71 off 51 balls for the third wicket with Virat Kohli and 40 from just 15 balls for fourth wicket with Robin Uthappa as RCB romped home with five balls to spare in chase of 182.
Uthappa played a stunning cameo of 22 from just eight balls with two sixes and a four to take the score near finishing line at the PCA Stadium.
Pietersen, who hit seven fours and one six in his 44-ball knock in his second match for RCB, smashed the winning runs, a four off Irfan Pathan, to take his side to 184 for four.
Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara top-scored with a 27-ball 45 as Kings XI Punjab posted a challenging 181 for five after electing to bat.
With the win, their fifth in eight matches, Royal Challengers are on second spot with 10 points and brightened their chances to qualify for the semi-finals.
For Kings XI, who slumped to their seventh loss in eight matches and faced a lot of flake for their performance, their chances for a last four berth virtually ended with their fourth home defeat.
Their bowlers leaked runs and fielders put a woeful performance. S Sreesanth, Ravi Bopara and Sangakkara dropped Pietersen in succession.
Shalabh Srivastava, Bipul Sharma and Irfan Pathan took a wicket apiece for Kings XI. Brett Lee continued his woeful form in the IPL 3 as he bled 48 runs from his four overs without taking any wicket.
Royal Challengers made a steady start in their run-chase with Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey not finding too many boundaries.
Kallis, most run-getter so far in IPL 3, fell cheaply for just nine in the fifth over, edging Shalabh Srivastava’s first delivery to Manvinder Bisla.
Run rate dropped down again after a freak dismissal of Pandey (25-ball 29) in the seventh over. Bipul Sharma got a deflection in his follow through and the ball hit the stumps after Kevin Pietersen had hit it down the pitch and Bisla was short of his crease after backing up.
Bisla earlier got a life in the third over when on 15 after Yuvraj Singh made a diving attempt of the bowling of Brett Lee but could not hold on to the ball.
Needing 60 from the last five overs and with eight wickets in hand, Royal Challengers stepped up the tempo but lost set batsman Virat Kohli off the first ball after the 15th over for a 26-ball 52.
Kohli hit four boundaries and a six before Irfan Pathan took an easy catch at deep midwicket.
Next ball, Kings XI could have tightened the screw on Royal Challengers but Ravi Bopara dropped Pietersen at long-on.
But the 17th over off Lee swung the match towards Royal Challengers with 25 runs coming from it with Robin Uthappa hitting the hapless fast bowler for two sixes and a four.
Earlier, Sangakkara shared 63 runs from 44 balls for the second wicket with opener Manvinder Bisla (28) after Shaun Marsh (2) was out cheaply in the second over, to provide the platform for the challenging total of 181 for five.
Bopara (42 not out), who has been Kings XI’s most prolific run-getter in IPL 3, and Yuvraj Singh, who made a 20-ball 36 which contained three fours and two sixes, chipped in as the home side added 62 runs in the last five overs.
For Royal Challengers Bangalore, Vinay Kumar, Dale Steyn, Anil Kumble and Jacques Kallis took a wicket each.
Kings XI, who have won just once in seven matches, though began on a disastrous note with their previous match half centurion Marsh out in the second over for two and the scoreboard reading three runs, Vinay Kumar being the successful bowler.
Bisla and Sangakkara were unperturbed by the early loss and hit some boundaries off Dale Steyn and Vinay Kumar before the former fell in ninth over for a 26-ball 28 which contained four fours.
Bisla fell while attempting a risky scoop shot off Kumble and the straighter delivery uprooted the stumps left exposed but after sharing a 44-ball 63 with Sangakkara.
Kings XI reached 74 for two after the halfway mark but suffered a jolt as Sangakkara was out in the 12th over as the Sri Lankan holed out to Kallis at deep square leg off the bowling off Steyn. Sangakkara had eight fours in his 27-ball cameo of 45.
Yuvraj, who has been under severe criticism after scoring just 101 runs from his earlier seven games, and Bopara shared a 65-run stand for fourth wicket in just 39 balls to take the home side score to near 150.
The left-handed Yuvraj looked ominous with some exquisite shots, including a six each off Kumble and Kallis but failed to post a big score yet again as he fell in the 18th over.
His big heave off a full toss from Kallis failed to clear Cameron White near the boundary. Yuvraj’s 36 contained three fours and two sixes.
Irfan Pathan then added 16 runs from just five balls to take the score past 180. (PTI)