A.B. de Villiers covered up for a misfiring Chris Gayle with an explosive 50 off 23 balls — laced with breathtaking strokes (six fours, two sixes). He built on the foundation laid by a hard-working 52 off 45 balls by Saurabh Tiwary to push Royal Challengers Bangalore to a daunting total of 187 for three.
Robin Uthappa threatened to overshadow de Villiers in an astonishing counterattack, 75 off 45 balls, and looked poised to effect a turnaround when he fell prey to a mistimed shot. Pune Warriors India went downhill from there, replying with 170 for nine in 20 overs to lose by 17 runs.
The RCB bowlers played their part in easing the road to a seventh win from 11 games, and first away win this season. Murali Kartik (two for 29), Vinay Kumar (three for 31) rose to the challenge by sending back the dangerous Uthappa and Yuvraj respectively.
Yuvraj displayed shades of elegance and timing Chris Gayle is famous for, stroking two sixes effortlessly, before swatting a chest-high ball from Vinay Kumar into de Villiers’ hands.
He lasted just 11 balls, too short to have made an impact. Vinay’s knack of picking up crucial wickets surfaced again when Steve Smith was caught behind.
de Villiers proved his worth as a more-than-capable contender for the ‘marauder role’ reserved for Chris Gayle in the RCB line-up.
The South African delighted with innovative strokes, rattling Dinda in the 20th over (two sixes, three fours).
Moises Henriques kept pace with full-blooded shots in a fourth-wicket stand of 68 in 29 balls. Saurabh Tiwary partly cashed in on his promotion to the opener’s slot with an aggressive 52 off 45.
He was unable to dominate the bowling at any stage, swung his bat at anything and everything to pick up two fours and as many sixes.
Gayle’s run-a-ball 21 was forgotten as de Villiers pulled off almost everything he attempted — from slogs to reverse-hits.
The Power Play overs fetched only 30 runs. Gayle, attempting to flex his muscles, swatted a huge six over long-on.
He tried to repeat the act, but ended up scooping a catch to deep mid-off.
Kohli and Tiwary alternated between placements and fierce drives/pulls to boost RCB’s score in a 39-ball stand worth 63.
However, Dinda struck a big blow for the home team when Kohli missed the line while attempting a slog and the ball nipped back onto the stumps. Warriors strangely did not use Bhuvneshwar (3-0-20-0) at the death.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Saurabh Tiwary c Rahul b Dinda 52 (45b, 2x4, 2x6), Chris Gayle c Bhuvneshwar b Suman 21 (21b, 2x4, 1x6), Virat Kohli b Dinda 25 (18b, 3x4), A.B. de Villiers (not out) 50 (23b, 6x4, 2x6), Moises Hendriques (not out) 27 (13b, 4x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-1, w-11): 12; Total (for three wkts. in 20 overs): 187.
Fall of wickets: 1-36 (Gayle), 2-99 (Kohli), 3-119 (Tiwary).
Pune Warriors India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-0-20-0, Ajantha Mendis 4-0-25-0, Tirumalasetti Suman 2-0-15-1, Angelo Mathews 2-0-23-0, Rahul Sharma 4-0-36-0, Yuvraj Singh 1-0-15-0, Ashoke Dinda 4-0-52-2.
Pune Warriors India: Robin Uthappa c R.P. Singh b Kartik 75 (45b, 5x4,5x6), Aaron Finch b Henriques 15 (11b, 1x4, 1x6), Tirumalasetti Suman (run out) 11 (14b, 1x4), Yuvraj Singh c de Villiers b Vinay 16 (11b, 2x6), Steve Smith c Arun Karthik b Vinay 4 (4b, 1x4), Angelo Mathews c Gayle b Vinay 32 (19b, 3x6), Abhishek Nayar c de Villiers b Kartik 1 (3b), Bhuvneshwar Kumar c Kohli b R.P. Singh 2 (3b), Ajantha Mendis lbw b Gayle 2 (4b), Ashoke Dinda (not out) 6 (5b, 1x4), Rahul Sharma (not out) 0 (1b), Extras (lb-2, w-4): 6, Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 170.
Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Finch), 2-46 (Suman), 3-77 (Yuvraj), 4-81 (Smith), 5-144 (Mathews), 6-153 (Nayar), 7-159 (Uthappa), 8-162 (Bhuvneshwar), 9-165 (Mendis). .
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Murali Kartik 4-0-29-2, R.P. Singh 4-0-27-1, Moises Henriques 4-0-44-1, Vinay Kumar 4-0-31-3, Muttiah Muralitharan 3-0-32-0, Chris Gayle 1-0-5-1.
Man-of-the-match: de Villiers