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Chasing a 139-run target on a slow Ranchi wicket against the Chennai Super Kings, the Royal Challengers Bangalore got over the line with five wickets in hand and one ball to spare. Led by an innings-steadying knock by Chris Gayle and handy contributions by the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh, the visitors pulled off a final-over thriller.
CSK won the toss earlier, and chose to bat first. Brendon McCullum (19) came out all guns blazing for the home team; he struck a six off Muttiah Muralitharan in the first over of the innings to announce himself. However, after scoring the lion’s share of the 29 runs put up by the first-wicket pair, the Kiwi opener was dismissed by Varun Aaron in the fifth over. And two balls later, Aaron also sent Dwayne Smith (9) back to the dugout.
Suresh Raina and CSK’s latest inductee, David Hussey, then came together. The pair played cautiously as the RCB spinners bowled a very probing line. They brought up the CSK 50 in the ninth over, and by the halfway stage, they had taken their team’s total to 55 for two. They then picked up the scoring rate a bit and brought up the CSK 100 in the 15th over. However, soon after that, Muralitharan got rid of Hussey (25). His dismissal brought MS Dhoni (7) in the middle. But he could not make a big impact on his home ground and fell prey to Abu Nechim in the 17th over.
Raina (62*), meanwhile, completed his half-century and remained unbeaten till the end. With Ravindra Jadeja (10*) for company, the southpaw managed to take the CSK score to a hard-fought 138 for four after 20 overs on a slow track. For RCB, Starc and Nechim bowled their four overs at sub-six economy-rates, while Aaron, who was taken for a few runs, picked up two crucial wickets.
RCB’s response began in a circumspect manner, given that the CSK spinners were taking advantage of the turn on offer from the get go. Even the destructive Chris Gayle was successfully tamed by the tweakers at the onset. And soon, R Ashwin capitalised on the pressure mounting on the RCB batters by dismissing Parthiv Patel (10) in the fourth over. The visitors could only score 18 runs in the powerplay. But Chris Gayle then broke the shackles with a big hit over long-on in the seventh over. Even Virat Kohli got in on the action as the duo scored 15 runs off that over. But after the momentary boost, the spinners again pulled down the run-rate; and after the 10th over, RCB were at 45 for one.
And while the second-wicket pair added a handy 61 runs, Kohli (27) was stumped by Dhoni off the bowling of Jadeja in the 15th over. However, Gayle unleashed thereafter – he struck Jadeja for a four and a maximum to top off that over. At that point, RCB were still 53 runs adrift of their target. Then, thanks to an AB de Villiers maximum, the Royal Challengers plundered 10 runs off the next over – bowled by Hussey. de Villiers and Gayle (46) struck a six each in the next over – off Ashwin – before the latter was cleaned up off the final delivery.
With the run-chase equation reading, 29 off 18, RCB needed a couple of big shots, and they got those courtesy de Villiers (28). The RCB batsman played a key role in plundering 15 runs off Hussey’s next over, but he was dismissed off the last ball. And then, Jadeja conceded just four runs off the 19th over to set up a thrilling finish where RCB needed 10 off the final six deliveries. In a surprise move, Dhoni then handed the ball to Hussey, who was struck for a six off his first ball by Yuvraj Singh (13*). The left-hander then struck a double and a one to level the scores with three balls to spare. But Hussey got rid of Sachin Rana off the next delivery to add drama to the proceedings. However, Nechim (6*) picked the bowler for a half-dozen over long-on to seal a win for RCB with one ball to spare.
Man of the Match: AB de Villiers for his 14-ball 28-run blitz, which included three sixes and a four.
Rajasthan Royals further solidified their position on the Pepsi IPL 2014 points table by registering a 62-run win against Delhi Daredevils in Ahmedabad. A Shane Watson-less RR team that was led by Steve Smith set their opponents a mammoth 202-run target, which proved too steep for DD to scale as they ended up at 139 for nine after 20 overs.
Earlier, Kevin Pietersen won the toss and chose to field first. Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair, who opened the innings for RR, gave their side a good start. They scored 12 and 16 runs off Rahul Shukla and Siddharth Kaul respectively to take the score to 43 after five overs. However, Shahbaz Nadeem trapped Nair (19) leg-before in the sixth over. However, thanks to a Kevon Cooper six off the last ball of the powerplay, RR were at 52 for one at that point.
Cooper (32) then took charge of proceedings with his unorthodox batting style. Thanks to his 16-ball knock, the RR score was propelled to 93 for two by the time JP Duminy claimed his wicket in the 11th over. However, Sanju Samson came in to bat next and took the attack to the DD bowlers as Rahane played a vital anchor role – the duo continued to plunder runs off Kaul and Shukla. Rahane (64) then brought up his half-century in the 16th over with a boundary, which also helped the Royals breach the 150-run mark. However, the diminutive opener got bowled off Nadeem in the next over.
At 167 for three, Stuart Binny (0) took strike opposite Samson. But Tahir had him stumped before he could get off the mark. The DD leggie then dismissed Samson (40) to finish off the 18th over. But Ben Cutting and James Faulkner then stepped on the pedal by smashing a couple big hits to score 17 runs off the 19th over. And while Cutting (8) was run-out off the last ball of the innings, Faulkner (23*) had already struck two maximums in the 20th over to take RR’s score to 201 for six.
In response, the Daredevils lost Mayank Agarwal (17) in the third over with just 19 runs on the board; Faulkner claimed his scalp. Dinesh Karthik (3) was the next to depart; Dhawal Kulkarni got rid of him, leaving DD on 30 for two. And while the hard-hitting Duminy (8) walked in next, even he departed soon; Pravin Tambe got the better of him in the seventh over. Pietersen (13), who was holding up one end, was then cleaned up by Rajat Bhatia. With the run-chase going off track, RR further strengthened their hold on the match as Bhatia dismissed Ross Taylor (4) before he could change his team’s fortunes.
Meanwhile, Manoj Tiwari was the lone batsman who kept the scoreboard ticking. But he did not get much support from Kedar Jadhav (4) either; the middle-order batsman was run-out with the Daredevils further slipping towards another loss. Cutting then saw the back of Nadeem (1) in the 14th over. And then, Binny bowled Tahir (4) out to take RR a step closer to an emphatic win.
With the scorecard reading 91 for eight in 14.4 overs, Rahul Shukla joined Tiwary. But after the duo had added 29 runs – the biggest partnership of the DD innings – Cooper sent Shukla (13) back to the dugout. And while Tiwari (66*) notched up a half-century, his team could only manage 139 for nine in their 20-over quota, handing RR a big win heading into the business end of the tournament. Man of the Match: Ajinkya Rahane for his half-century