Royal Challengers Bangalore's AB de Villiers plays a shot against Rajasthan Royals in Dubai on Saturday. - BCCI/IPL
Dubai - The South African smokes an unbeaten 22-ball 55 as they win by 7 wickets
AB de Villiers conjured a remarkable knock to pull off a fantastic victory for the Royal Challengers Bangalore against Rajasthan Royals in Dubai on Saturday.
The South African batsman smoked an unbeaten 55 as the Royal Challengers Bangalore won by seven wickets and two balls to spare at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The 36-year-old, who has been in blistering form this IPL, came up with his fourth fifty from just 22 deliveries, during which he clubbed six sixes and a boundary. It was his 37th half-century in the IPL and it also brought up 4000 IPL runs for RCB.
More importantly, it brought up their sixth victory in nine matches and they are third on the table with 12 points.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore made a steady start to the chase of 178 but lost opener Aaron Finch. Leg spinner Shreyas Gopal, who has been quite successful against RCB, taking 13 wickets, increased that to 14 after he had Finch caught by Robin Uthappa after the Australian had made a 11-ball 14 with two sixes.
Young opener Devdutt Padikkal and skipper Virat Kohli then joined hands to take them to 77 for one in 10 overs, with the duo bringing up a half-century stand for the second wicket in 44 balls.
The pair seemed to be going along well with Padikkal playing the anchor role to near perfection, while his captain attacked the bowlers.
But two quick wickets left Royal Challengers Bangalore in a spot of bother. Padikkal was caught by Stokes off leg spinner Tewatia after making 35 from 37 balls with two boundaries. Padikkal and Kohli had put on 79 runs for the second wicket.
And Tewatia took one of those jump-out-jump-in catches at the boundary line to see the back of Kohli, who had carved out a 32-ball 43 that had two sixes and a boundary.
Not to take anything away from Gurkeerat Singh but with Kohli gone, the pressure was on RCB despite the presence of AB de Villiers.
RCB needed 47 from the last three overs and de Villiers played that sparkling knock to take them home.
De Villiers and Singh's unbroken stand was worth 77.
Earlier, Steve Smith and Uthappa struck some form as the Rajasthan Royals put up a competitive score.
Smith, the Royals captain, scored 57, while Uthappa, promoted to open, came up with a good hand as the inaugural champions of the IPL posted 177-6.
There were question marks over Smith's form following a poor run of scores but the Australian showed enterprise in his knock which came from 36 deliveries and contained six boundaries and a six. It was his third half-century of the season and the 11th of his IPL career.
Uthappa, who too had been going through a wretched time with the bat, was back at the top and the familiarity of opening helped the Karnataka batsman ease himself in.
Uthappa, who joined the Royals from the Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of this edition, scored 41 from 22 balls which was studded with seven boundaries and a six. The 34-year-old, who also formerly played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, surpassed 4500 IPL runs over the course of his knock.
He and the other opener Ben Stokes laid a good platform for the Royals with a 50-run stand for the opening wicket. But they lost their way a little bit with Uthappa and Sanju Samson falling in quick succession to leave Chahal on the brink of a hat-trick. But Jos Buttler judiciously left the googly.
Smith then stitched together a 58-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Buttler and a stand of 46 runs for the fifth with Rahul Tewatia.
The Rajasthan Royals tweaked their batting order with Samson coming in at No.3, Smith at No.4 and Buttler at No.5.
All-rounder Chris Morris picked 4-26, while leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal took two for 34.
The Royals went in the same team, while the Royal Challengers Bangalore made two changes. Gurkeerat Singh replaced Mohammed Siraj, while left arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed made his IPL debut and came in place of Shivam Dube.
Rajasthan Royals: 177-6 in 20 overs (Steve Smith 57, Robin Uthappa 41, Jos Buttler 24, Rahul Tewatia 19 not out, Chris Morris 4-26, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-34) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore: 179-3 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 55 not out, Virat Kohli 43, Devdutt Padikkal 35, Gurukeerat Singh 19 not out) by 7 wickets.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (wk), Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris, Shahbaz Ahmed, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Rajasthan Royals: Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Smith (C), Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi.