AB magic powers Challengers

AB magic powers Challengers

AB magic powers Challengers

 Lightning strikes twice, indeed at the same place! Seemingly in control of the situation, Sunrisers Hyderabad saw helplessly as the match slipped away from their grasp with AB de Villiers engineering a clinical destruction of the visiting attack.

The South African batsman almost single-handedly arrested Royal Challengers Bangalore’s three-match losing run with an innings only he could have only played (89, 41b, 6x4, 8x6). It was the same batsman who had pulled off an improbable win against the now-defunct Hyderabad team Deccan Chargers in 2012 with a stunning assault on Dale Steyn.

For the record, Royal Challengers, after restricting Sunrisers Hyderabad to 155/6, replied with 158 for six with de Villiers bringing up the winning runs off the penultimate ball of the chase. This was Royal Challengers’ third win from six matches while Hyderabad slipped to their fourth defeat from six games as well.     

The Challengers’ chase had been thrown out of gear once they lost their top three batsmen, including skipper Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle. Kohli fell to a moment of lapse in concentration as he slashed at a widish Steyn delivery while Gayle, looking ominous after hammering Ishant Sharma for two sixes and a four in one over, holed out in the deep.  
 
While it all appeared over for the home side when they slipped to 95 for five, it was de Villiers who kept them in the game. Needing 59 from the last five overs, de Villiers gathered momentum taking 19 off the 16th over from Darren Sammy. The next two overs, however, went for only 11 bringing the equation to 28 off the final two with Steyn coming in to bowl the 19th over.

As he had done in 2012 when he had taken 23 off Steyn’s over with RCB needing 39 from the last three overs, de Villiers did an encore clobbering the paceman for 24 (6, 6, 1, 1, 4, 6) essaying some outrageous strokes, effectively sealing the contest in Bangalore’s favour.  

 Sunrisers largely had to thank David Warner (61, 49b, 4x4, 3x6) for posting a challenging total. The left-hander first combined well with skipper Shikhar Dhawan (37) to steady the ship that had been rocked by two quick wickets in the form of a dangerous-looking Aaron Finch and a fast-improving KL Rahul. The hard-hitting Australian then accelerated towards the end to shore up the score.

Finch received peach of a delivery from Mitchell Starc (2/21), easily the most impressive of Challengers’ bowlers, while Rahul’s attempted cut off Ashok Dinda resulted in an easy catch to Gayle in the lone slip. At 29 for two and with Dhawan searching for some runs in the tournament, it wasn’t an ideal position for the visitors to be in. Warner, however, sized up the situation well and paced his innings judiciously. Dhawan, too, grew in confidence with each minute of his stay in the middle.

The left-handed duo, without being too extravagant, maintained a healthy rate, interspersing an odd boundary with hard-run singles and twos. The occasional slip-ups in fielding by the Challengers were fully enchased by Sunrisers. The two added 62 runs from 55 balls before Dhawan departed.  

The hosts had beefed up their bowling by including paceman Harshal Patel in place of Yogesh Takawale while replacing all-rounder Albie Morkel with Rossouw. While Harshal was reasonably good in his first outing of the season, the hitherto impressive Varun Aaron (2/33) proved a bit costly and Ashok Dinda (1/39) was even more profligate. Finch had creamed Dinda for a four and a six in his first over and Warner clobbered the right-arm paceman for two sixes in his final over that leaked 16 runs. But for Starc, who kept Warner in check before cleaning up the southpaw in the final over, Sunrisers could have gathered many more runs.   

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