Ranchi: Royal Challengers Bangalore made a stunning late flourish after initial struggle with A B de Villiers playing a cameo of 14-ball 28 to pull off a five-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings in a thrilling IPL match here today.
Chasing 139 for a win, Bangalore found the going tough with the Chennai slow bowlers seemingly tying them into knots in the first half of their innings before exploding towards the end to overhaul the target with one ball to spare in a low-scoring match that went down the wire.
Chris Gayle. Pic/ AFP
Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni used his four slow bowlers -- R Ashwin (2/16), Suresh Raina (0/20), Ravindra Jadeja (0/31) and Samuel Badree (0/15) -- for long spells and, as they were getting the turn on JSCA International Stadium, Bangalore struggled to reach 45 for one at the halfway mark.
Opener Chris Gayle, who top-scored for Bangalore with an uncharacteristic 50-ball 46, played and missed several times but to his credit he stayed at the crease. Bangalore, however, had wickets in their hands so that they can go all out in the last five overs.
That was exactly what they did as Bangalore scored 97 runs in 9.5 overs to reach 142 for five from 19.5 overs to win the match and stay afloat for a play-off berth. With today's win, Bangalore jumped to fifth place with 10 points from 11 matches while Chennai, who were virtually through to the play-off stage, remained on second spot with 16 points from 11 games.
The fightback began with Gayle and Virat Kohli (27) stitching 61 runs for the second wicket from 10.4 balls before the Bangalore captain was out in the 15th over. Gayle and de Villiers then decided to have a go at the Chennai bowlers who were getting the odd ball turn. The duo hit some lusty blows to put pressure on the Chennai bowlers. When Gayle was out, Bangalore needed 29 runs from the last three overs and de Villiers took 15 runs from the 18th over bowled by David Hussey (2/38) to almost settle the issue for his side.
Before he was out in the 18th over, de Villiers hit one four and three sixes and took his side to just 14 runs away from victory. Bangalore needed 10 runs from the final over bowled by Hussey and Yuvraj Singh (13 not out) smashed a six from the first ball before Abu Nechim Ahmed (4 not out) hit a four to win the match.
Earlier, Raina overcame early jitters to hit an unbeaten half-century and guide Chennai to a modest 138 for four. During his 48-ball 62-run knock, Raina struck a six and six boundaries to help his team to a decent total after they struggled to force the pace for a major part of the innings. Bangalore bowlers were very economical with Varun Aaron being the most impressive with figures of two for 29 from three overs.
Opting to bat, Chennai did not have an ideal start as they lost both their openers within the first five overs, with Aaron accounting for Dwayne Smith (9) and Brendon McCullum (19). Raina walked into the middle when Chennai were in the spot of bother after losing two wickets in the same over with just 29 runs on the board in 4.4 overs.
Along with David Hussey, Raina rebuilt the Chennai innings, putting on 75 runs together for the third wicket. Raina was more dominating of the two batsmen as he hit all the loose balls that came his way, even as Hussey struggled to get going. Finally it was Muttiah Muralitharan who saw Hussey off for a 29-ball 25.
Even Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to take off despite hitting an early boundary off Yuzvendra Chahal. In the final overs, Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with a nine-ball 10, putting on an unbroken 23 runs for the fifth wicket with Raina.