The South African dug Royal Challengers Bangalore out of a bit of a hole yet again, striking a 40-ball 57 in a four-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
Umesh Yadav’s three for 23 had helped RCB restrict Punjab to 155 but the pursuit of that target was far from straightforward. Forty-one runs were needed off the last four overs when de Villiers went after Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Zadran).
The off-spinner, who had conceded 10 runs off his first three overs, went for 19 in his last, de Villiers hammering a pair of sixes off the final two balls of his spell. The win was RCB’s first at home after a run of five losses.
Brendon McCullum was dismissed off the second ball of the run chase as Punjab opened with spin from both ends. Virat Kohli unfurled a couple of delightful drives before he fell in dramatic fashion to Mujeeb.
The 17-year-old Afghan, who was bought for ₹4 crore, has a variety of off-breaks and carrom balls in his arsenal and he bowled Kohli with a googly from the back of the hand; there was not a murmur in the crowd.
De Villiers and Quinton de Kock restored control, though, adding 54 runs for the third wicket. It was R. Ashwin who broke that alliance, bowling de Kock for 45.
The Punjab captain struck next ball, paying homage to Anil Kumble with his action and removing Sarfaraz Khan. RCB appeared rattled but de Villiers and Mandeep Singh stood firm, stitching together a partnership of 59.
Earlier, asked to bat, Punjab failed to put the fielding side under sustained pressure. This was due in no small part to a triple strike from Umesh in the fourth over.
Openers K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal no strangers to this ground had begun well, the former battering Chris Woakes for 16 runs in the first over.
But Umesh had Mayank edge behind, de Kock taking a flying catch, before trapping Aaron Finch leg-before first ball. Yuvraj Singh was bowled through the gate off the over’s final delivery, leaving Punjab three down in the blink of an eye.
Rahul, who again seemed in a hurry, clouting four sixes, and Karun Nair then added 58 runs for the fourth wicket before Washington Sundar intervened.
Rahul fell four short of a fifty to the off-spinner, his swipe across the line taking the top edge. Karun was bowled by Kulwant Khejroliya for 29 not long after, and when Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel fell in the following two overs, Punjab had lost four for 28 in four overs.
Ashwin arrested the slide with a 21-ball 33, an innings that included a six off Yuzvendra Chahal, as Punjab limped past 150.
Kings XI Punjab: Rahul c Sarfaraz b Washington 47 (30b, 2×4, 4×6), Mayank c de Kock b Umesh 15 (11b, 3×4), Finch lbw b Umesh 0 (1b), Yuvraj b Umesh 4 (4b, 1×4), Karun b Khejroliya 29 (26b, 3×4), Stoinis st de Kock b Washington 11 (9b, 1×6), Axar lbw b Khejroliya 2 (3b), Ashwin st de Kock b Chahal 33 (21b, 3×4, 1×6), Tye c Kohli b Woakes 7 (7b), Mohit (not out) 1 (2b), Mujeeb c Sarfaraz b Woakes 0 (2b); Extras (lb-3, w-3): 6; Total (in 19.2 overs): 155.
Fall of wickets: 1-32 (Mayank, 3.1), 2-32 (Finch, 3.2), 3-36 (Yuvraj, 3.6), 4-94 (Rahul, 11.1), 5-102 (Karun, 12.6), 6-110 (Stoinis, 13.4), 7-122 (Axar, 14.6), 8-142 (Tye, 17.5), 9-153 (Ashwin, 18.5).
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Woakes 3.2-0-36-2, Umesh 4-0-23-3, Khejroliya 4-0-33-2, Chahal 4-0-38-1, Washington 4-0-22-2.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: de Kock b Ashwin 45 (34b, 7×4, 1×6), McCullum c Mujeeb b Axar 0 (1b), Kohli b Mujeeb 21 (16b, 4×4), de Villiers c Karun b Tye 57 (40b, 2×4, 4×6), Sarfaraz c Karun b Ashwin 0 (1b), Mandeep run out 22 (19b, 1×4), Woakes (not out) 1 (2b), Washington (not out) 9 (4b, 2×4); Extras (lb-3, w-1): 4; Total (for six wkts. in 19.3 overs): 159.
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (McCullum, 0.2), 2-33 (Kohli, 4.5), 3-87 (de Kock, 11.2), 4-87 (Sarfaraz, 11.3), 5-146 (de Villiers, 18.1), 6-150 (Mandeep, 18.4).
Kings XI Punjab bowling: Axar 4-0-25-1, Ashwin 4-0-30-2, Mujeeb 4-0-29-1, Tye 4-0-27-1, Mohit 3.3-0-45-0.
RCB won by four wickets with three balls remaining.>
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