Royal Challengers Bangalore was under pressure, it had to win to survive. Delhi Daredevils had nothing at stake, it was already out of the competition.
But the ghost of Ferozeshah Kotla came back to haunt as DD lost its fifth game in six outings at home. Playing more for pride than anything else, DD could still have contributed to keep the excitement alive in the Indian Premier League by winning the encounter.
Instead, it faltered at the finish line yet again. Chasing 184 to win, DD could only manage 179 for seven in 20 overs.
The top order of Mahela Jayawardena, Virender Sehwag and David Warner was gone with the team total at 60. Unmukt Chand top-scored with 41 runs, trying to hold up the middle, the way Virat Kohli did for RCB.
Till the 15th over, DD was 23 runs ahead of RCB’s total at the same point. Irfan Pathan and Morne Morkel swung the bat hard towards the end to take the match into final over but the target was four runs too much.
Stand-in captain David Warner won the team’s first toss this season and put RCB in. Till the 16th over, it looked as if his decision would come good. Then, mayhem struck.
The 17th over saw Morne Morkel go for 18 runs, including the first six of the innings, courtesy A.B. de Villiers. That it came so late in the innings was made up by three more in the next one, this time from Virat Kohli’s bat, as Umesh Yadav went for 24 runs, the most expensive of the innings.
From 106 for three, captain Kohli and de Villiers smashed their way to 183 for four — 76 runs in the last four overs. Even though Kohli was run out on 99 off the last ball, he had done enough damage to silence the vociferous Delhi crowd — his home at other times.
After the early dismissal of Chris Gayle (4) and Cheteshwar Pujara (17), RCB needed someone to stay around till the end, and Kohli stepped up.
Moises Henriques was sent in ahead of de Villiers, surprising many — specially after the way de Villiers slashed his way to an unbeaten 17-ball 32 — but the 57 runs put on for the third wicket by Kohli and Henriques was the foundation on which the late flourish was built.
Incidentally, this was Kohli’s first 50-plus score in eight innings, the last coming against the same opposition at Bangalore almost a month ago.
What was impressive was the way he rotated the strike and kept the scoreboard ticking with the occasional boundary before cutting loose towards the end.