AB takes RCB to the finish line
Chasing 159, RCB looked down and out at 29 for five before de Villiers smashed 79 off 47 balls to script a sensational comeback and take the team home in 18.2 overs. The Lions were outdone by one man’s class as the efforts of Dhawal Kulkarani and Dwayne Smith went in vain.
With the spectacular win, RCB are into their third IPL final and one step away from their maiden title. Lions on other hand will have another chance to make the summit clash in the Qualifier 2 in Delhi on Friday.
The RCB were expected to overcome the target with minimum fuss but tricky batting conditions at the normally batting friendly Chinnaswamy made the job tougher for them.
Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle can close the game in a space of a few overs but the devastating opening pair had an off day. Kohli, who has been in sensational form this IPL, suffered a rare failure when he dragged a wide one off Kulkarni on to his stumps, stunning the crowd into silence.
The disappointment on the face of India’s star batsman was evident as he walked back into the dressing room. The two of his four hundreds in the competition had come against the Lions. The odd ball stopping on a slower surface made the task more challenging. Gayle too was out in Kulkarni’s over as he attempted a whack over midwicket to see his stumps rattled.
Kulkarni kept bowling in the off stump corridor and that worked brilliantly for him. Lokesh Rahul was caught at first slip the following ball and Kulkarni was on a hat-trick. Kulkarni ended up with a career best figures of 4 for 14, albeit in a losing cause.
Soon after, RCB had lost half their side with de Villiers left to pull off a herculean task. The South African, as he often he does, brought his team back into the game and involved Iqbal Abdulla (33 not out off 25) in a unbeaten 91-run stand for the seventh wicket.
The team needed 49 off the last 30 balls but de Villiers paced his innings perfectly to take the team with 10 balls to spare. He ended with five sixes and as many boundaries in his special knock.
Earlier, Smith hammered 73 off 41 balls to help Gujarat Lions recover from a disastrous start and post a competitive total.
Smith hammered six sixes in his whirlwind knock and shared an 85-run stand with Dinesh Karthik (26 off 30) after Lions lost their top three batsmen for nine runs. Watson was the stand out bowler for the hosts, ending with four wickets for 29 runs in his four overs.
RCB, confident of chasing any total at home, were on top of the opposition after putting them in at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Kohli gave the ball to left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla (2/38) in the second over and he responded by removing the dangerous opening duo of Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum.