With RCB tottering at 29-5 at one stage, De Villiers fires unbeaten 47-ball 79 to beat Gujarat Lions and enter final
Bangalore: It was supposed to be a game between two extremely dangerous top-order line-ups, but it turned out to be a bowlers’ night out instead. In the end it was about which team could hold its nerve, which middle and late order could make up for the two top-order disasters.
RCB’s AB de Villiers in full flight vs Gujarat Lions at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/PTI
That team turned out to be Royal Challengers Bangalore for whom AB de Villiers played a lone hand as, after a lot of huffing and puffing, they eventually chased down the 158 scored by the Lions. Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla too played his part, following up his twin strikes with the ball in the evening’s second over, with an unbeaten 33 (25b, 3x4, 1x6) during an astonishing, unbroken 53-ball, 91-run 7th wicket association with De Villiers, who himself ended with 79 (47b, 5x4, 5x6).
Gujarat Lions’ Dhawal Kulkarni dismisses RCB captain Virat Kohli for a duck in Bangalore yesterday. PIC/AFP
The hard-earned win, which came in the 19th over, also put the hosts in the final to be played at this same Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday. Gujarat Lions, who thanks to an enterprising 73 from Dwayne Smith had recovered from 23-3 in the opening six overs of the game to post a decent total on an unusually not-so batting friendly pitch, had hit back through the fantastic effort of Dhawal Kulkarni (4-1-14-4) to have RCB reeling at 31-5 in their six, but simply couldn’t get across the line. At least they have another shot at making the final.
Virat wins rare toss
Earlier, before the De Villiers special, barely had the home crowd returned to their seats after the short dinner break when silence ruled. Virat Kohli had won a rare toss but it was a rarer duck that silenced the nearly packed Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Kulkarni was the bowler as Kohli dragged a not-too-short ball on. Okay, if Kohli don’t hit you, Chris Gayle will must have been the thought in the stands but it was again Kulkarni who got his man. Two more strikes, KL Rahul first ball and Sachin Baby a little later and Kulkarni was on cloud nine even as the clouds started gathering above.
Then again De Villiers wasn’t one of the early victims and that was the difference. Support first came from Stuart Binny, whose enterprising 15-ball 21 was cut short by a poor LBW call by umpire Anil Chaudhary.
Then came Abdulla, who with two wickets off his first over, the second of the Lions’ innings, began the batting slide. Walking in at 68-6, ahead of Chris Jordan, the young man displayed a cool head and saw the chase through alongside De Villiers, who even in the tensest of moments still found it in him to play the reverse sweeps, against pacers at that.
Gujarat Lions 158 in 20 overs (D Smith 73, D Karthik 26; S Watson 4-29, C Jordan 2-26) lost to RCB 159-6 in 18.2 overs (AB de Villiers 79*, I Abdulla 33*; D Kulkarni 4-14, R Jadeja 2-21) by four wickets