The Royal Challengers Bangalore got a shocker ahead of their match. They had to drop Jacques Kallis from the squad as the all-rounder was carrying a neck injury, and the Cricket South Africa medical team advised him rest.
The RCB, however, coped well with the loss, and bowled well to restrict the Highveld Lions to 159, a total that shouldn't trouble their batsmen too much on this batting friendly track in a sparsely occupied stadium.
The Johannesburg crowd hasn't actually thrown their weight behind their team like the residents of Port Elizabeth. Quite surprisingly, the Mumbai Indians found more support than the Lions when the two teams clashed here in the opener. The Lions, though, seem to have won back some fans with their fine show in the tournament. The turnout, however, still wasn't as good as the Lions would have wanted in this crucial game.
The Lions didn't seem to mind too much and got off to a good start, with skipper Alviro Petersen and Jonathan Vandiar looking in good nick. But then Vinay Kumar, the innocuous looking medium pacer, struck twice to remove Vandiar and Richard Cameroon, leaving the Lions in a spot of bother.
Skipper Alviro Petersen and Vaughn van Jaarsveld, however, took control of the situation to put the innings back on track. Petersen in particular was looking really good and punished the bowlers with his well timed pulls and drives on both sides of the wicket. Jaarsveld, too, got into aggressive mode and played some fine strokes before he slipped and was run out by Dale Steyn.
Skipper Anil Kumble, back to his best after a forgettable performance against the Mumbai Indians the other day, dealt the most crucial blow to the Lions when he cleaned up Petersen for 45. The Lions needed their skipper to stay until the end as there wasn't much batting left, and he was striking the ball really well.
That they still managed to reach the total they eventually did was largely thanks to Neil Mckenzie. The veteran batsman played a cautious 39-run knock to keep the Lions in the game. Later, Robert Frylinck came up with some big strokes to help Lions reach a fighting total.
The RCB should, however, be happy with this target, given the depth in their batting. Although they will miss Kallis at the top, they should still knock off the runs without much hassle.
Brief scores: Lions 159/6 (Petersen 45, McKenzie 39) Vinay Kumar 2 for 23. RCB: 41/0 (6 overs)