Robin Uthappa's excellent 45-ball 75-run knock went in vain as Royal Challengers Bangalore defeated Pune Warriors by 17 runs to consolidate their second position in the Pepsi Indian Premier League on Thursday.
Uthappa's fiery knock, during which he hit five boundaries and as many towering sixes, failed to take Pune home as, chasing a stiff 188 for victory the hosts ran out of steam to be restricted to 170 for nine and hand RCB their first win away from home this season.
Chasing the challenging target, Pune lost wickets at regular intervals to find themselves in a spot of bother at 81 for four in 10.5 overs.
Skipper Aaron Finch (15 off 11) was the first to depart after he played on to his stumps a Moises Henriques delivery in the third over. Tirumalasetti Suman (11 off 14) and Yuvraj Singh (16 off 11) did not help their side's cause either. While Suman was run out, Yuvraj hit a R Vinay Kumar delivery straight to the hands of De Villiers at long-on.
To add to Pune's misery, Vinay Kumar accounted for Steven Smith four balls later after he edged one to wicket-keeper Arun Karthik.
But some counter-attacking from Uthappa and Angelo Mathews brought Pune back into the match. The duo added 63 runs for the fifth wicket in just 33 balls to send some shivers in the RCB camp. Uthappa was at his attacking best as he moulded his innings perfectly to keep Pune in the hunt.
Right after stepping on to the crease, Mathews blossomed in Uthappa's company as the duo clobbered Muttiah Muralitharan for three huge sixes to pick up 21 runs in the 16th over. Just when it seemed the duo might run away with the game, Mathews was caught by a diving Gayle at point off Vinay Kumar.
Murali Karthik then produced twin blows in the next over to put paid to Pune's hopes. Karthik first dismissed Abhishek Nayar and then two balls later accounted for the big wicket of Uthappa, caught by R P Singh.
Thereafter, victory looked improbable for the struggling hosts as RCB tightened the noose around Pune's neck to register the comfortable win.
RCB's dominance was so complete after Uthappa's departure that Kohli gave Chris Gayle the opportunity to bowl the last over of the innings with Pune needing 24. The tall Jamaican trapped Ajantha Mendis in front and gave away only six runs to ensure that Pune slipped to their sixth straight defeat.
Earlier, Saurabh Tiwary made a fine 52 before A B de Villiers' quick-fire unbeaten 50 propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to a challenging 187 for three.
However, RCB did not have the best of starts as Chris Gayle and Tiwary found the going tough against Pune's disciplined opening attack.
Asked to open the batting, Tiwary built his innings patiently and repaid his captain's faith by holding together RCB's innings with a fine half-century that came off 45 balls and was studded with two fours and as many sixes.
But it took a brilliant improvised innings from De Villiers towards the rear phase of the innings to steal the limelight from Tiwary.
The South African took the Pune bowlers for a leatherhunt and scered his 50 off just 23 balls with the help of six boundaries and two sixes to take RCB past the 180-run mark which at one stage looked bleak.
In Moises Henriques (27 off 13), De Villiers found an able partner. The duo smacked took the Pune bowlers for a task and shared unbeaten 68 runs for the fourth wicket in just 4.5 overs.
De Villiers showed great improvisation and scored a whopping 26 runs off Ashok Dinda in the final over to finish off RCB's innings in style.
Poor Dinda came under De Villiers' wrath as he hit the ordinary-looking pacer for 6,4,6,4,4 and two runs in the final over of the innings.
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