De Villiers, Kohli steal the show

De Villiers, Kohli steal the show

Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers kept Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) faint hopes alive by anchoring them to a five-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

Put in, Rishabh Pant(61 off 34) and debutant Abhishek Sharma (49 n.o. off 19) helped Daredevils post a competitive 181/4. But Kohli(70) and De Villiers (72 n.o.) forged a third-wicket partnership of 118 off 64 balls to lay the foundation of RCB chase.

The visitors lost openers Moeen Ali and Pathiv Patel early. Patel was trapped leg before by debutant Nepalese leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane to make it a memorable outing for the teenager. It though left RCB reeling at 18/2, prompting the ever-reliable duo of Kohli and De Villiers to bend their backs in pursuit of survival. Kohli, determination personified, launched the onslaught by ripping another Daredevils debutant Junior Dala for 17 runs in the fourth over. The only time, perhaps, Kohli looked a tad offset was when a fan broke through the security ring to touch his feet while he was standing at the non-striker's end.

With De Villiers quickly settling in and Kohli spitting fire with the bat, the short Kotla boundaries were peppered with an array of free-flowing strokes.

The powerplay yielded 58 runs and the two built on it. Kohli confidently strode on the crease, stroking effortlessly on both sides of the pitch. De Villiers did what he does the best -- majestically picking the lengths and sending the ball over the ropes-at times merely standing. The fluent strokeplay of the two stalwarts got the capacity crowd on its feet. In an anti-climax of sorts, Amit Mishra separated the two when he got Kohli caught behind with a flighted delivery in the 14th over. The quick departures of Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan then set in some anxiety but De Villiers ensured RCB reach home safely, hitting the winning runs, with a straight six, and an over to spare.

Earlier, Yuzvendra Chahal’s twin strikes left Daredevils 16/2 in three overs. Chahal bowled Prithvi Shaw with a straighter one and returned with a googly to knock off the bails of Jason Roy. But Pant, spurred by a blazing century just two days ago, rustled up 93 runs with captain Shreyas Iyer for the third wicket. Pant pummeled seamers and spinners alike and brought his half-century with a six and four. His hot run was curtailed by the genius of De Villiers, who sprinted to take a tough, sliding catch at long-on.

When Iyer too departed two overs later in the 16th, Daredevils appeared to be in all sorts of trouble. But Sharma made a flying start to his IPL career to keep the home team rolling. The left-hander timed the ball brilliantly with a great follow through. His straight six off Tim Southee, immediately after being dropped by Mohammad Siraj, must have earned him new admirers. The Punjab youngster, in the company of Vijay Shankar, ensured Daredevils gain 65 runs in the last 5.5 overs. It, though, turned out to be RCB’s day.