By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
AB de Villiers produced a stunning unbeaten 55 off 22 balls to power Royal Challengers Bangalore to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the Dream11 IPL at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. Chasing a challenging target of 178, Virat Kohli also slammed a valuable 43 off 32 as Royal Challengers Bangalore notched up their sixth win in nine matches. For Rajasthan Royals, the road to play-offs looked quite difficult as they suffered their sixth loss of the season.
It was yet another case of so near yet so far for Rajasthan Royals. They were on the verge of registering their fourth win but an outstanding innings by de Villiers shattered their hopes.
With 35 runs required from the last couple of overs and the ball not coming on to the bat nicely, the match seemed to be slipping away from RCB. However, de Villiers did not give up. RR skipper Steve Smith handed over the ball to Jaydev Unadkat instead of Jofra Archer in the penultimate over. The move completely backfired as de Villiers carted the left-arm paceman for three successive sixes off first three balls to turn the match on its head.
De Villiers signed off in his typical style by sending Archer’s fourth ball over deep midwicket fence, much to the jubilation of his teammates.
In-form Devdut Padikkal and Kohli batted superbly and added 79 runs for the second wicket. However, both Padikkal and Kohli perished in succession, putting a lot of pressure on the lower-order batsmen. But experienced de Villiers changed the gears at the right moment to seal the win for RCB.
Earlier, Robin Uthappa, promoted as opener for the first time in this IPL, got RR to a brisk start when the field restrictions were on. Just when Uthappa will go on to make a big one he departed for 41. Star all-rounder Ben Stokes (15) failed with the bat again.
Steve Smith played a captain’s knock of 57 to boost the total. The skipper faced just 36 balls and hammered 6 boundaries and a six. Jos Butler (24) and Rahul Tewatia (19 not out) also batted. Fast bowler Chris Morris was the most successful bowler with 4 for 26, while Yuzvendra Chahal picked up 2 for 34.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 177 for 6 in 20 overs (Steve Smith 57, Robin Uthappa 41, Jos Butler 24, Rahul Tewatia 19 not out, Ben Stokes 15; Chris Morris 4-26, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-34) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 179 for 3 in 19.4 overs (AB de Villiers 55 not out, Virat Kohli 43, Devdutt Padikkal 35, Gurkeerat Singh 19 not out, Aaron Finch 14; Rahul Tewatia 1-30, Shreyas Gopal 1-32, Kartik Tyagi 1-32) by 7 wickets. Man-of-the-match: AB de Villiers (RCB).