His unbeaten 89 off 41 balls knocks the stuffing out of SRH’s hopes of defending its 155 for six
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 100th IPL match gifted the fans a Sunday night to remember, as A.B. de Villiers played a blinder and ensured that the host did not come up short at the milestone. The South African’s pulsating knock (89 n.o., 41b, 6x4, 8x6) rescued the host from a precarious 95 for five in 14.3 overs while chasing Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 155 for six and ensured that the men in red and gold, lived up to the faith invested in it by its faithful followers, who thronged the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
RCB won by four wickets. It wasn’t easy though as nails were chewed and nerves were stretched right through RCB’s chase.
The home team suffered a double blow when Bhuvneshwar Kumar dismissed Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli in a span of six deliveries. As usual a lot hinged on Chris Gayle, and when the opener smote Ishant Sharma for a four and two sixes, the fans gained their voice.
The decibel levels rose sharply when Gayle tried to launch leg-spinner Karn Sharma over mid-wicket and then the noise died down instantly as Darren Sammy swooped in on the dipping ball and reduced RCB to 38 for three.
Worse was to follow when Karn, in the middle of a nagging three-over spell, trapped Rilee Rossouw.
It was left to de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh to live up to their reputations, and as the duo held fort, briefly, RCB was still in the frame.
The South African pummelled Irfan Pathan and Ishant and, just as Yuvraj joined the act with a rousing six off Karn, the delight was snuffed quickly as the southpaw perished in the same over.
de Villiers, never one to give up, then got busy in doing the improbable. He manufactured an improbable sliced reverse-sweep off Bhuvneshwar and made room to hoist Dale Steyn over fine-leg,
The steep 59 needed from the last five overs were scoffed at and men as fast as Steyn and as crafty as Sammy were treated with disdain.
Steyn — who had suffered similar treatment in the 2012 edition — was caned for 24 in the 19th over and, with that assault, de Villiers sealed the match, pocketing it with a four with one ball to spare in the last over bowled by Irfan.
Earlier, David Warner’s 61 (49b, 4x4, 3x6) helped Sunrisers Hyderabad stay afloat despite losing two wickets inside the first four overs.
Warner, who is said to have had boxing drills with team-mate Aaron Finch on the match’s eve, played an innings much akin to the sport’s oscillations between defence and sudden attack.
It was an approach shaped in equal measure by the position of his team when he walked in (29 for two) and by the RCB bowlers’ ability to slip in a few yorkers close to the off-stump to deny him the width he so desperately desires.
At the break, RCB may have believed that it was marginally ahead. It was a hope that de Villiers nursed effectively through to fruition.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: A. Finch c Parthiv b Starc 13 (8b, 1x4, 1x6), S. Dhawan c de Villiers b Aaron 37 (36b, 4x4), K.L. Rahul c Gayle b Dinda 6 (6b, 1x4), D. Warner b Starc 61 (49b, 4x4, 3x6), D. Sammy c Starc b Harshal 8 (8b, 1x6), N. Ojha c Starc b Aaron 15 (11b, 1x4, 1x6), Irfan Pathan (not out) 4 (2b, 1x4), K. Sharma (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (lb-3, nb-1, w-6): 10; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 155.
Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Finch), 2-29 (Rahul), 3-91 (Dhawan), 4-115 (Sammy), 5-149 (Ojha), 6-150 (Warner).
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Starc 4-0-21-2, Dinda 4-0-39-1, Aaron 4-0-33-2, Harshal 4-0-29-1, Chahal 4-0-30-0.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: C. Gayle c Sammy b Karn 27 (19b, 3x4, 2x6), Parthiv Patel b Bhuvneshwar 3 (5b), V. Kohli c Ojha b Bhuvneshwar 0 (5b), R. Rossouw lbw b Karn 14 (23b, 1x4), A.B. de Villiers (not out) 89 (41b, 6x4, 8x6), Yuvraj Singh c (sub) b Karn 14 (16b, 1x4, 1x6), M. Starc run out 5 (8b), Harshal Patel (not out) 1 (2b); Extras (lb-1, w-4): 5; Total (for six wkts., in 19.5 overs) 158.
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Parthiv), 2-6 (Kohli), 3-38 (Gayle), 4-59 (Rossouw), 5-95 (Yuvraj), 6-152 (Starc).
Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling: Steyn 4-0-39-0, Bhuvneshwar 4-0-16-2, Ishant 3-0-35-0, Karn 4-0-17-3, Irfan 2.5-0-25-0, Sammy 2-0-25-0.
Man-of-the-Match: A.B de Villiers.
RCB won by four wickets and with one delivery to spare.