IPL: Superman De Villier's 's Royal heist
Batting genius helps RCB snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Gujarat Lions
The magical brilliance of Ab de Villiers came to the fore as the South African batting superstar's heroic knock helped Royal Challengers Bangalore recover from a batting collapse to beat Gujarat Lions in the IPL Qualifier on Tuesday.
The four-wicket victory was RCB's fifth straight win in the tournament and they became the first team to qualify for the final.
For a long time though, it seemed Gujarat Lions would clinch this match in style as Dhawal Kulkarni's (4/14) incisive bowling reduced RCB to 68 for six at one stage.
Among Kulkarni's victims was the red-hot Virat Kohli. The tournaments's top-scorer even failed to open his account.
But luckily for Bangalore, they had a genius to fall back on. And De Villiers (79 not out, 47 balls, 5 fours, 5 sixes) took the attack to the Lions with some stunning shots and he was well supported by Iqbal Abdulla (33 not out, 25 balls, 3 fours and 1 six).
Their unbroken 91-run partnership snatched victory from the jaws for defeat.
Earlier, Dwayne Smith hammered 73 off 41 balls to help Gujarat Lions recover from a disastrous start and post 158 all out.
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. All-rounder Shane 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.
McCullum stepped out on the first ball Abdulla bowled and ended up being holed out at deep extra cover with the safe hands of AB De Villiers doing the needful. Finch departed three balls later as he tried a flick off one that turned away, only to be caught at first slip by Chris Gayle.
The Lions were in deeper trouble in the fourth over when Watson removed their captain Suresh Raina, who has been the leading run getter for his side in the competition. Raina fell to a short ball again as he pulled Watson straight to the man at short fine-leg.
In came Smith and alongside Karthik did the repair Job. The duo forged a much needed partnership with Smith scoring the bulk of the runs. The West Indian took the attack to the spinners, not allowing them get into the groove. He got to his third half century of the season by sweeping Abdulla to a six over long on.
Karthik, at the other end, played the supporting well until he shuffled across the stumps to lap it towards fine leg, only to play on to his stumps. His shot selection was questionable with a man at deep fine leg in place.
Jadeja joined Smith but the southpaw perished cheaply to continue his modest season with the bat. When the time came to get a move on, the quick wickets of Karthik and Jadeja pegged Lions back further, reducing them to 107 for five.
Smith was the lone hope left for Lions but he too departed while attempting another big one off leggie Yuzvendra Chahal. Besides a barrage of sixes, he ended up hitting five boundaries.
Eklavya Dwivedi did his bit towards the end by smashing 19 off nine balls.
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