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A sensational innings from AB de Villiers rescued Royal Challengers Bangalore from a dire situation and helped them book a place in the Final of VIVO IPL 2016. In the first of the Playoff matches at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, RCB were tottering at 68 for 6 in pursuit of 159, when the Superman from South Africa took control and powered his team over the line. RCB got past the finish line in the 19th over, winning the match by 4 wickets.
RCB were in dire straits when their skipper Virat Kohli was dismissed for a duck and the big-hitting Chris Gayle was dismissed for 9 in the fourth over. KL Rahul fell for a first-ball duck, Shane Watson edged to slip and Sachin Baby tamely drove to the man at cover as RCB slipped to 29 for 5 before the end of the Powerplay overs. Stuart Binny (21) added 39 runs in the company of de Villiers to keep the table-toppers at bay for a brief period.
At the half-way stage, RCB were 70 for 6, needing a further 89 runs in the second half of the innings. That’s when de Villiers took charge; in the company of Iqbal Abdullah, he added 91 runs in an unbeaten partnership and took his team over the line in style.
Given the position his team was in, the need of the hour was caution, and de Villiers exercised plenty of caution and batted conservatively early on; at the conclusion of fourteen overs, he had 47 from 32 balls against his name. That’s when he decided it was time to step on the gas; he flat-batted a Dwayne Smith delivery in the fifteenth over to bring up his half-century, and sent the next ball in orbit. The first delivery of the 16th over – bowled by Shadab Jakati – was swept into the stands at square leg. In the next over, the experienced Praveen Kumar was at the receiving end; he deposited the ball into the crowds at midwicket and then reverse swept one past the fielder at point. As a result of the blitz, the required run-rate which was 10.50 at the end of the 14th over, had come down to a modest 7.00.
Iqbal Abdullah hit three boundaries of the last three deliveries of the 18th over to all but seal the deal. AB de Villiers remained unbeaten on 79, made from 47 balls and aided with five fours and as many sixes, while Iqbal Abdullah remained undefeated on 33, made from 25 balls. RCB got home with ten balls to spare.
On the bowling front, Dhawal Kulkarni broke the backbone of RCB with a sensational spell of bowling; the Gujarat Lions speedster delivered the ball in just the areas batsmen found difficult to negotiate and picked up four wickets before the fielding restrictions were relaxed. Kulkarni ended with career-best figures of 4-1-14-4. The left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was impressive too; on a surface which afforded a bit to the spin bowlers, he varied his pace and trajectory, and finished with figures of 4-0-21-2. Shadab Jakati came in for plenty of stick, conceding 45 runs in his three overs.
Earlier in the evening, the Gujarat Lions, put in to bat, slipped to 9 for 3, losing Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Suresh Raina in the first four overs. The innings was put back on track by an 85-run partnership between Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik. Smith, 73 from 41 balls, took a liking for the RCB spinners and plundered them; he scored 51 runs off 23 balls against the two spinners. Karthik’s 26 was the second-highest score of the Lions’ innings. Eklavya Dwivedi (19 from 9 balls) and Dhawal Kulkarni (10 from 4 balls) also made useful contributions at the end. The latter was run out off the last ball of the innings and Gujarat Lions were bowled out for 158; it was the second time this season that GL had been dismissed, and both those instances were against RCB.
For RCB, Shane Watson was the most successful bowler, picking up four wickets, which also earned him the Purple Cap. Iqbal Abdullah picked up two wickets – those of the two openers, as did Chris Jordan. Yuzvendra Chahal leaked 42 runs in his four overs, but picked up the big wicket of Dwayne Smith, caught at long off. Brief Score
Gujarat Lions 158 all out in 20.0 Overs (Dwayne Smith 73, Dinesh Karthik 26, Shane Watson 4-29) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 159-6 in 18.2 Overs (AB de Villiers 79*, Iqbal Abdullah 33*, Dhawal Kulkarni 4-14) by 4 wickets. Man of the Match: AB de Villiers, for his unbeaten 79.
For most part of the league stages of VIVO IPL 2016, the bowling department had been a bugbear for Royal Challengers Bangalore. But not on Sunday evening when they came up against the Delhi Daredevils in the final league fixture of the season. In a crucial do-or-die contest, the RCB bowlers brought their ‘A’ game to the park and strangled the Delhi Daredevils to a modest 138-8. When it was their turn to chase, RCB rode on a half-century from their run-machine – skipper Virat Kohli – to chase down the runs in the 19th over. The 6-wicket win meant RCB, who had won only two of their first seven matches of the season, not only qualified for the Playoffs, but also finished the league stage at second place and will therefore have two chances of qualifying for the final. The defeat meant the end of the road for the Delhi Daredevils, who finish with seven wins and as many defeats.
Earlier in the evening, the RCB captain won the toss and gave the home side the opportunity of setting a target. In the face of a disciplined bowling performance from the visitors and on a pitch where stroke-making was difficult, DD lost wickets at regular intervals; there was never a phase in the innings when the DD batsmen were scoring runs freely.
de Kock, who had earlier scored a century against this opponent in the reverse-leg in Bengaluru, once again stood tall. The South African had hit three boundaries and a six by the time the fielding restrictions were relaxed at the end of the sixth over. Thereafter though, with wickets falling at the other end, he chose to shun the aggressive methods for the more efficient methods and resorted to rotating the strike; he got to his half-century at the start of the 14th over – needing 43 balls to get to the milestone. He was dismissed for 60 (52 balls), when he attempted to go aerial against Yuzvendra Chahal, but holed out to long-off. The left-hander was involved in partnerships of 31 with Karun Nair and 29 with Sanju Samson, among others, before he was seventh out, at the start of the 17th over.
Chris Morris, who reclaimed his place in the Delhi Daredevils XI at the expense of JP Duminy, played a cameo at the end; batting at number eight, the South African scored 27 from 18 balls and remained unbeaten. Delhi Daredevils finished at 138-8, 20 runs short as their captain admitted in the post-match chat. In as many as nine of their 20 overs, DD scored less than a run a ball; there were only four overs in the innings where the home side managed to score 10 runs or more in an over.
For RCB, Chahal was the most successful bowler; the leg-spinner picked up three wickets, to take his tally of wickets in the season to 19 – and thereby clinched the Purple Cap. Chris Gayle rolled his arm over and collected two wickets in his two overs, while Sreenath Arvind and Chris Jordan collected a wicket each.
RCB were jolted at the start of their chase when Chris Morris dismissed Gayle for 1 and Zaheer Khan extracted extra bounce and had AB de Villiers (6) fending to the man at cover point. At 17-2, there must have been just a few nerves in the visitors’ dressing room. But the presence of Virat Kohli, who looked determined, and a quick fire 38 from KL Rahul must have quickly doused any tension building up in the dressing room. The third wicket pair added 66 runs in 7.3 overs, with Rahul playing dominant partner. The Karnataka batsman drove through cover, cut through point, pulled for a six and even played the reverse sweep in his 23-ball 38.
Rahul was dismissed in the eleventh over when the ball took the inside edge of his bat and rolled onto his stumps. Shortly after, Shane Watson gave Pawan Negi his first wicket of the season when he picked out the midwicket fielder in the 15th over.
At the other end was Kohli, accumulating runs without a fuss. It wasn’t the usually fluent and stroke-filled half-century. Aware that the required run rate wasn’t too demanding, the RCB captain operated in second-gear for most part of his knock; he was happy to play second fiddle to Rahul and kept turning the strike over to him. He stayed around till the end and ensured the job was done. Fittingly', he struck the winning runs – he collected a quick single after driving Carlos Brathwaite to mid-on. The RCB captain finished unbeaten on 54, and had hit six boundaries in his 45-ball knock.
For DD, skipper Zaheer Khan bowled a testing spell upfront and finished with figures of 1-30. Chris Morris, Negi and Brathwaite picked up one wicket each too.
Delhi Daredevils 138-8 in 20.0 Overs (Quinton de Kock 60, Chris Morris 27*, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-32, Chris Gayle 2-11) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 139-4 in 18.1 Overs (Virat Kohli 54*, KL Rahul 38, Zaheer Khan 1-18) by 6 wickets.
Man of the Match: Virat Kohli, for his unbeaten 54 (45 balls).