Pune: AB de Villiers combined with Mandeep Singh for a game-changing partnership as Royal Challengers Bangalore eliminated Rajasthan Royals from the IPL-8 with a splendid 71-run win, here tonight.
De Villiers hit a fighting 66 and shared a match-winning 113-run stand with Mandeep (54 not out) as Bangalore recovered from a sluggish start to post a challenging 180 for four after electing to bat.
Rajasthan never looked convincing in their chase as they kept losing wickets and eventually folded for just 109 in 19 overs, built around Ajinkya Rahane's fighting 42.
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli congratulates David Wiese for getting Rajasthan Royals captain Steven Smith's wicket during their IPL 8 eliminator match at the MCA International Stadium in Pune on Wednesday. Pic/PTI
Rajasthan's surprise capitulation reduced it to a lop-sided affair and their total was the lowest in the IPL play-offs.
Bangalore will now play against Chennai Sper Kings in the second Qualifier on Friday, the winner of which will lock horns with Mumbai Indians in the summit clash on Sunday.
Earlier, Rajasthan had the proceedings firmly under their grip but they leaked 86 runs in the last six overs to let it slip.
De Villiers' 66 came off 38 balls with four sixes and as many fours while Mandeep took 34 balls for his unbeaten 54, which had seven fours and two sixes.
For the Royals, Dhawal Kulkarni (2/28) was the pick of the bowlers.
Choosing to bat on a two paced wicket, RCB were off to a steady start as both openers Chris Gayle (27) and Virat Kohli cautiously negotiated the good deliveries.
Though Gayle had much of the strike for the first six overs, there were not many big shots hit as the rival bowlers kept hurling at an impeccable line and length.
But the last ball of the powerplay, bowled by Kulkarni, crashed into the Jamaican's citadel, leaving the Royal Challengers at 41/1.
An over later, Kulkarni picked up the other big gun, skipper Kohli (12) who gifted him a return catch trying to work a delivery on the leg-side.
A few lusty hits from youngster Mandeep helped RCB reach 60/2 at the halfway stage after runs were down to a trickle.
However, de Villiers who had been quietly picking up the ones and twos, finally broke the shackles as he clobbered left arm spinner Ankit Sharma for 19 runs in the 15th over, and also bringing up the 100 for his side.
Mandeep joined in the act as the duo cruised along on high gear notching 37 from the next 18 balls, which included two huge sixes from de Villiers off Chris Morris in the 18th over.
Though the South African got run out, Mandeep ensured they had a formidable total on the scoreboard.
Rajasthan lost in-form Shane Watson (10) and Sanju Samson (5) cheaply and the onus was on Rahane and skipper Steve Smith to bring the side back in the contest.
The two looked like raising a partnership but David Wiese dismissed Smith (12) at the start of the ninth over with only 55 runs on the board. Rahane kept losing partners as now Karun Nair (12) was caught behind off Harshal Patel.
The required rate had zoomed up to 15 and Rahane was left with no option but to go all out and in the process he lost his wicket when he swept Yuzvendra Chahal, managed only an edge, which was easily taken by De Villiers.
Nothing was going Rajasthan's way as James Faulkner was dismissed in a bizzare fashion. The Australian hit a low full toss from Sreenath Aravind, the edge hit the toe of the batsman and flew towards the bowler, who took an easy catch in his follow through.
Stuart Binny (0) was run out first and it was all over for Rajasthan. Patel (2/15) and Aravind (2/20) took two
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 180 for 4 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 66, Mandeep Singh 54 not out; Dhawal Kulkarni 2/28).
Rajasthan Royals: 109 all out in 19 overs.(Ajinkya Rahane 42, Karun Nair 12; Harshal Patel 2/15, Sreenath Aravind 2/20).