Earlier in the evening, Royal Challengers Bangalore recovered from a slow start to post a commanding total on the board. On a challenging surface, where the ball stopped and came on to the bat, the opening pair of Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli struggled to make use of the fielding restrictions early on. The left-handed Gayle dominated much of the strike in the first six overs, crawling to 27 from 26 balls – hitting four boundaries and a six and batting out 16 dot balls - before he lost his middle pole to Dhawal Kulkarni off the last ball of the Powerplay overs.
Kohli too fell prey to Kulkarni, when he attempted to drive through mid-on, but was done in by the extra bounce and lobbed a return catch to the bowler; the RCB captain didn’t find the fence even once in his 18-ball stay, managing only eight singles and a couple of twos.
From 46 for two when Kohli was dismissed in the eighth over, AB de Villiers and Mandeep Singh put the innings back on track through a 113-run partnership. de Villiers was his usual self, running hard between the wickets, working his way around the crease to unsettle the bowlers, and played some powerful strokes. He took his time initially, scoring only 17 of the first 21 balls he faced, before accelerating and scoring 49 off the next 17 balls he faced.
de Villiers brought up his half-century in style, hooking a short delivery from Chris Morris into the stands at fine-leg. He was dismissed in the nineteenth over – for 66, made from 38 balls and studded with four boundaries and as many sixes - when he failed to beat a throw from Stuart Binny in the deep while attempting a risky second run.
Mandeep Singh couldn’t have chosen a better day to score his first half-century of the season. The 23-year old, who had aggregated only 99 runs in the season before this match, walked out to bat in the eighth over and batted through to the end. He ran hard between the wickets, apart from finding the boundary every now and then, contributing 43 runs to the 113-run partnership with de Villiers. He brought up his half-century in the nineteenth over – needing 32 balls to get to the milestone, and finished unconquered on 54 from 34 balls.
RCB, who were 60 for two at the half way stage in their innings, scored 120 runs in the back half (86 of them in the final six overs), to finish at 180 for 4.
For RR, Dhawal Kulkarni was the pick of the bowlers; he picked up the wickets of the two openers and only conceded 28 runs in his four-over spell. Chris Morris (1-42) and James Faulkner, who took the new ball, conceded 42 runs in their respective four overs. Shane Watson, conceded 21 runs in the 13 balls he bowled to de Villiers, but was disciplined otherwise, conceding only a run-a-ball in the remaining eleven balls he bowled.
Faced with a competitive target of 181, Rajasthan Royals were pushed on the backfoot very early in their chase. Sreenath Arvind accounted for RR’s man-in-form Shane Watson in the second over, and Harshal Patel found the glove of the one-drop batsman Sanju Samson in the fifth over. Ajinkya Rahane and skipper Steve Smith added 22 runs in 3.2 overs before the latter attempted to go over the top, but didn’t connect well and holed out to AB de Villiers at deep cover.
Rahane kept his end up, accumulating runs until the fourteenth over, before his slog-sweep landed in the hands of de Villiers at midwicket; he made 42 and struck four boundaries in his 39-ball outing. With a mountain of runs still needed and only the lower middle-order left, RCB had the match in the kitty. RR were eventually bowled out for 109 in the nineteenth over. The second-highest scorer in the innings was 12, and the highest partnership of the innings was the 24-run stand between Karun Nair and Rahane.
For RCB, all the bowlers came to the party in this do-or-die contest. The left-arm seamer Sreenath Arvind, recalled to the team after having recovered from his injury, struck two lethal blows – dismissing Watson and James Faulkner, finishing with figures of two for 20. Harshal Patel bowled disciplined lines and lengths picking up the wickets of Sanju Samson and Karun Nair. Mitchell Starc (1-22), David Wiese (2-32) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2-20) too ensured they didn’t release the pressure.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 180-4 in 20.0 Overs (AB de Villiers 66, Mandeep Singh 54*, Dhawal Kulkarni 2-28) beat Rajasthan Royals 109 in 19.0 Overs (Ajinkya Rahane 42, Sreenath 2-20)
Man of the Match: AB de Villiers, for his 38-ball 66 and two catches in the field.