AB de Villiers’ swashbuckling 22-ball 55 fashioned an incredible seven-wicket victory for Royal Challengers Bangalore over Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League match here on Saturday.
Chasing 178, De Villiers smashed six sixes to help RCB win the game after all seemed lost for them following the dismissal of Virat Kohli with the team struggling at 104 for three in the 14th over.
The seasoned South African launched into Jaydev Unadkat for three successive sixes in the 19th over to swing the match in his team’s favour. He finished the game in style, hitting Jofra Archer for a maximum with two balls still to go.
RCB lost Aaron Finch (14) after Australia’s limited overs captain had hit two sixes.
Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal stitched a 79-run partnership for the second wicket but consumed too many deliveries in doing so, failing to keep pace with the required run rate.
Kohli brought the team’s hundred by lofting Rahul Tewatia for a big six over long-on, but Padikkal, while trying to break the shackles after struggling his way to 35 off 37 balls, got out when his pull shot failed to clear Ben Stokes in the deep.
And then came the big wicket of Kohli, thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding by Tewatia, who pulled off a catch inches from the line at deep midwicket on the rebound after the batsman whipped it off his pads.
The ball travelled at a great speed but Tewatia, coming off a wicket in his previous ball, balanced himself after nearly falling over the line to complete a fine catch.
Kohli made 43 off 32 balls with the help of two sixes and a four.
The required run rate rose rapidly as RCB struggled to find the big overs, but de Villiers had other ideas.
Earlier, skipper Steve Smith’s counterattacking 36-ball 57 guided Rajasthan to 177 for six.
Smith struck six fours and one maximum before Chris Morris bowled a brilliant final over, conceding only four runs while taking two wickets to check RR from going past 180.
Fast-medium bowler Morris finished with excellent figures of 4/26 in four overs.
Earlier batting first, Rajasthan were off to a brisk start as opener Robin Uthappa (41 off 22 ball) launched into the RCB attack with a flurry of fours and a six.
Back in his favoured position alongside Ben Stokes after another change in the combination, Uthappa saw his team play two quiet overs before smashing Washington Sundar for four boundaries in the innings’ third over.
Isuru Udana was pulled and then lofted over long-on by Uthappa for the day’s first maximum as RR raced to 38 for no loss in four overs.
Morris gave RCB their first breakthrough when he had the subdued Stokes caught down the leg side.
Uthappa scored two more boundaries, off pacer Navdeep Saini, before his slow sweep went into the hands of the deep mid-wicket fielder off the bowling of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sanju Samson got going with a six that landed into the second tier of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. But he also fell to Chahal, taken at long-off by Morris as RR slipped to 69 for three after a good start.
On the lookout for quick runs, Smith found an ally in Jos Buttler and the two added 55 runs while steadying the ship.
Buttler fell for a 24-ball 25, but Smith continued to anchor the RR innings.
Chahal, meanwhile, bowled two front foot no balls which were struck for boundaries by Smith, giving his team 10 runs and two additional deliveries.
After RR scored 19 runs in the long 18th over bowled by Chahal, Tewatia hit Udana for a six and four to collect 15 from the penultimate over.