AB de Villiers powers RCB to a six-wicket win

AB de Villiers, one of the two shining gems in the Royal Challengers Bangalore armoury, sparkled for the third time this season as the hosts got their floundering campaign on track with a morale-boosting win over Delhi Daredevils here on Saturday.

Joining forces with skipper Virat Kohli with RCB at a dicey 29/2, chasing a testing target of 175, the South African maverick unleashed his all-too-familiar beatdown on the bowlers to power RCB to a five-wicket victory and send the packed Chinnaswamy Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

The 34-year-old looked busy from the time he came to the crease, greeting left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem with back to back boundaries of the second and third balls he faced. Right throughout his innings, he looked fluent and in the company of Kohli engineered a superb resurrection.

Kohli, who was cautious at the other end, slowly started to gain rhythm himself and just when the duo looked to be taking the game away from DD, the skipper had to return to the dug-out after Trent Boult pulled off a blinder at the deep square leg.

Jitters then started to set in the RCB camp but de Villiers 90 (39b, 10x4, 5x6), cool and calm as ever, took it upon himself to carry hosts home. He played some stunning shots all-around the wicket as DD bowlers struggled to find a way past him. Be it spinners or pacers, none could contain the magician, who brought some much-needed joy into the camp.

While the brilliance of de Villiers saved their day, RCB could have been on the wrong side of the result after suffering another implosion in the death overs when bowling. For three-quarters of DD’s innings, RCB bowled brilliantly, keeping a tight leash on the visiting batsmen. Pacers Umesh Yadav and Chris Woakes extracted good pace and bounce on a helpful surface while leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal finally looking to have found his range.

In fact so good were RCB, they restricted DD to 28/2 in the Power Play — the best performance in terms of the economy by a bowling side in this IPL. Rishabh Pant (85, 48b, 6x4, 7x6) and Shreyas Iyer (52, 31b, 4x4, 3x6), two young talented batsmen blessed with a good repertoire of strokes, struggled to get a move-on early in their innings as DD progressed at snail’s pace.

At the halfway stage with DD at 58/2, RCB entertained hopes of chasing a comfortable total. But, just like in the last three games, RCB hit the self-destruct button in the last five overs — conceding a whopping 71 runs. Pant was the architect in chief, bludgeoning the RCB bowlers to all parts of the ground.

Having got his eye in, he pre-meditated the RCB attack exceptionally to power DD to a competitive total. The length balls disappeared disdainfully into the stands while he moved well in the crease to offset the RCB bowlers continuously. Totally confused, they didn’t know where to bowl to Pant and wherever they did, the ball just kept whizzing into the stands. Thankfully for RCB, de Villiers countered that carnage with his own fire.

 

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