Yuvraj Singh made a thrilling, unbeaten 68 (29b, 1x4, 9x6) to help RCB post a formidable 186; Muttiah Muralitharan and Mitchell Starc then bowled splendidly to tie Delhi down.
For much of this IPL season, Yuvraj Singh had cut a forlorn figure, the weight of expectations large and the volume of runs small. Now, it seems he simply won’t be stopped; after tearing Rajasthan Royals to shreds in a losing cause at the weekend, Yuvraj tucked into Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday, leading Royal Challengers Bangalore to a 16-run win at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The left-hander made a thrilling, unbeaten 68 (29b, 1x4, 9x6) to help RCB post a formidable 186; Muttiah Muralitharan and Mitchell Starc then bowled splendidly with the ball to tie Delhi down. The result keeps RCB’s hopes of progress — however faint — alive. The victory, though, was not entirely straightforward. With Sunday’s ambush fresh in the memory, there must have been some trepidation in the ranks as J.P.-Duminy and Kedar Jadhav unleashed a flurry of boundaries. Sixty-four runs were needed off the last four, when Abu Nechim Ahmed — in the side for Ashoke Dinda — leaked 18.
Duminy then squeezed Starc away for four before he was bowled by the Australian for a 30-ball-48. It swung the contest the host’s way; with 26 needed off the last over, Starc held his nerve. Delhi embarked on the pursuit in dire fashion, both openers out inside two overs with very little on the board.
Mayank Agarwal — reprieved once by Chris Gayle — and Kevin Pietersen then added 63 runs for the third wicket to give Delhi hope. But Yuzvendra Chahal had Pietersen stumped for 33 and from that point, it was an uphill task.
Earlier, a persistent drizzle typical of the region delayed the start of play by 70 minutes. Put in to bat, RCB seemed stuck in a torpor, failing to make any big strides. Gayle flickered briefly, launching a couple of sixes, but he edged Rahul Shukla onto the stumps for 22.
It preceded a boundary drought that lasted almost five overs. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli was run out cheaply, attempting a second run that felt unnecessary. In nine overs, the score had limped to a mere 50, when A.B. de Villiers broke free. The innings finally gathered some momentum, 49 runs added for the third wicket in 26 balls before de Villiers was bowled by Siddarth Kaul for 33.
It brought Yuvraj to the crease and soon Delhi’s bowlers wilted, blow by forceful blow. Imran Tahir vanished for three successive sixes, all of them clearing the fence in some comfort. The South African had a torrid time, going for 48 from his four overs without a wicket.
Mohammed Shami then got his yorker slightly wrong and the ball was sent soaring over fine leg. Shukla had hitherto bowled creditably, but entrusted with the final over, he felt the full impact of Yuvraj’s fury. Four more sixes rained down on the stands as 27 runs were added to RCB’s total. The last 11 overs had yielded 136.