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AB blinder takes RCB home

David Warner on way to his 61, on Sunday

Bangalore: AB de Villiers produced one of the most devastating T20 innings as he smashed an unbeaten 89 from just 41 balls as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) pulled off a sensational four-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH) in a dramatic IPL match, here, on Sunday.

De Villiers butchered Hyderabad bowlers, hitting six fours and eight sixes as he single-handedly took RCB to victory after the hosts suffered early jolts following fine bowling performances by Karn Sharma (3/17) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/16).

Chasing 156 for six, RCB seemingly lost the plot as they were reduced to 59 for four in the 11th over and then were down 95 for five when Yuvraj Singh (14) was out, needing 61 from 5.3 overs.

But De Villiers got into the act and played a memorable innings to take RCB home with one ball to spare. He stitched a partnership of 57 runs for the sixth wicket with Mitchell Starc. De Villiers was the more dominant one as Starc could score only five.

In the process, De Villiers dented the reputation of his South African compatriot fast bowler Dale Steyn who bled 39 runs without a wicket in his four overs.

RCB needed 28 runs runs off last two overs and De Villiers came into the act and hammered Steyn for 24 runs in the 19th over with three scintillating sixes and a four, which turned the tables against Sunrisers. RCB needed just four runs to score in the last over to notch up a win.

Fittingly, De Villiers hit the winning runs, a four off Irfan Pathan, to take RCB to their first victory at home in IPL VII in front of a cheering crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

This was RCB’s third win in IPL VII and they are now at the fourth spot with six points from six matches.

The only blemish in De Villiers’ incredible innings was when Karn Sharma failed to hold on to a tough chance in the 14th over off the bowling of Pathan when the batsman was on 32.

After restricting Hyderabad for 155 for six in 20 overs, the RCB top order, however, could not click as they were reduced to 38 for three 6.4 overs.

Opener Parthiv Patel, who had a good start in couple of matches, failed yet again as he was castled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar for just three in the second over.

Captain Virat Kohli, who was a bit low in confidence in this year’s IPL, did not bother the scorers, as he irresponsibly flashed at Kumar to give a simple catch to Naman Ojha behind the stumps.

Chris Gayle (27) showed the glimpse of his batting prowess for a short while by hammering India pacer Ishant Sharma for two sixes and a boundary in the fifth over, but threw his wicket away when he tried to slog Karn Sharma.

The West Indian batsman scored an entertaining 27 off 19 balls with three fours and two massive sixes, but failed to shore up RCB’s chase from troubled waters. When he left the scene, the home side was deep in trouble, struggling at 38 for three.

South African Rilee Rossouw, a replacement for Nick Maddinson, looked out of sorts playing on the Indian conditions. He scored a laborious 14 runs off 23 balls with one boundary, before he was trapped by leggie Karn Sharma in 11th over, leaving the home side tottering at 59 for four.

Left to steady the ship, Yuvraj, with De Villiers, added valuable 36 runs for fifth wicket before he fell to Karn Sharma.

Earlier, David Warner's fighting knock of 61 off 49 balls helped Sunrisers post a decent total after being put into bat.

Warner hit four boundaries and three sixes as he steadied Sunrisers' innings, along with captain Shikhar Dhawan (37 off 36 balls). The duo shared a 62-run partnership for the third wicket.

Sunrisers lost their in-form opener Aaron Finch (13) and Lokesh Rahul (6) early as they were reduced to 29 for two in four overs. Mitchell Starc and Ashok Dinda (1/39) accounted for both the batsmen.