RCB vs KXIP: AB De Villiers guides Royal Challengers Bangalore to third consecutive win
Not often does Chris Gayle try to emulate a shot played by another batsman in a T20 match. The 39-year-old, an epitome of T20 batting, has almost everything in his arsenal to toy around with bowlers’ morale. But then, it was one from AB de Villiers’ top drawer and even the ‘Universe Boss’ couldn’t help himself.
It was in the penultimate over of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s innings and Mohammed Shami, who had just been hit for two successive sixes, found his attempted yorker only end as a waist-high full toss. De Villiers, caught off-guard, tried to get out of the way but just about put his bat in between his body and the ball that flew outside the stadium over the square leg boundary. By the time a new ball was chosen, Gayle could be seen trying to get a measure of the technique with which De Villiers dispatched the ball out of the park.
That one shot summed up AB de Villiers’ class on Wednesday as the hosts beat Kings XI Punjab by 17 runs after putting up 202 for four on the board. Chris Gayle (10-ball 23), KL Rahul (27-ball 42), Mayank Agarwal (21-ball 35) and Nicholas Pooran (28-ball 46) had all put on individual shows for the visitors but couldn’t prevent a second successive defeat.
After Gayle fell following a mini-blitz, Rahul and Agarwal seemed to carry on the momentum but set stage for a sorry trend — faltering after getting starts. With 30 required off 12 balls, Navdeep Saini then sent back both David Miller and Pooran and let Umesh Yadav defend 26 off the last over. The latter not only defended that in style but also picked two wickets.
Earlier, coming out to bat after Virat Kohli fell cheaply, de Villiers held himself back to let Parthiv Patel don the aggressor’s role and fall back to just rotating strikes. Parthiv started from where he had left in the last game and smashed a brilliant 24-ball 43 before uncharacteristically top-edging one to the cover fielder off Murugan Ashwin.
Moeen Ali and Akshdeep Nath followed suit soon as well and from 70 for one at the end of the Powerplay, the hosts were suddenly cut short to 81 for four at the halfway stage. Marcus Stoinis had joined de Villiers but instead of taking on the bowlers, the two fell back on rebuilding the innings — a phase between a barren spell for RCB that saw no boundaries for 37 deliveries. It was down to the two Ashwins — Ravichandran and Murugan — who ensured the check on the staggering run rate in the middle overs and gave little away to Stoinis and de Villiers to work with.
But clearly the two had other ideas. Once the slump was dealt with, Stoinis let de Villiers take charge. Studded with seven towering sixes and three boundaries, he scored an unbeaten 82 off 44 deliveries, helping RCB pick 64 in their last three overs. Unimaginative bowling from Shami (1/53), Ankit Rajpoot (0/46) and Hardus Viljoen (1/51) at the death only helped the duo in their cause. Viljoen, in fact gave away 27 off the last over with Stoinis collecting 20 off the last four deliveries to help RCB breach the 200-run mark.