A fifty from Glenn Maxwell and a three-wicket haul for Yuzvendra Chahal helped the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) seal qualification into the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs with a six-run win over the Punjab Kings (PBKS) on Sunday. 

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Maxwell’s 34-ball-57 propelled Punjab Kings
to 164 for 7 which is the highest team total in Sharjah this season and then
Chahal owned the middle-overs with another game-changing spell of 3/29 which
saw KL Rahul’s team finish at 158 for 6.

With 16 points from 12 games, RCB thus
became the third team after Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals to make it
to the last four stage.

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Punjab Kings with 10 points from 13 games
can reach 12 points but with a net run-rae of -0.241 and having played one
match more than Rajasthan Royals (10 points), Mumbai Indians (10 points) and
KKR (10 points before evening game), they are all but out of the competition.

It was another close match that Punjab
Kings couldn’t finish off and their skipper Rahul needs to take a lot of responsibility
as his 39 off 35 balls did more damage than help to his teams cause.

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Match after match, Rahul has been taking
the game deep and then frittering away the advantage after which, the below-par
middle-order of Punjab Kings, arguably the worst in this edition is bungling up
big time.

Punjab Kings were 91 for no loss in the
11th over before Rahul’s indiscreet shot selection trying to hit left-arm
spinner Sahbaz Ahmed against turn changed the course of the match.

His opening partner Mayank Agarwal (57 off
42 balls) was more attacking but was fooled by Chahal’s cleve variation of pace
as he top edged a sweep shot.

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Nicholas Pooran (less than 100 runs in 11
games) probab;y is the luckiest player to get one chance after the other and
played another rash sweep shot off a tossed up Chahal delivery and a distinctly
overweight Sarfaraz Khan, was fooled by a conventional leg-break.

Punjab needed 27 runs from the last two
overs and Mohammed Siraj (0/33 in 4 overs) bowled an impressive penultimate
over to bring down the equation to 19 runs off the final over and Harshal Patel
(0/27 in 4 overs) defended well by taking the pace off his deliveries.