Bangalore: In an incredible power-hitting show, Steven Smith and James Faulkner rattled up a match-winning 85-run stand from no where as the Rajasthan Royals pulled off a stunning five-wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore, on Sunday.
Chasing a daunting 191 to win, the Royals were staring down the barrel after losing five wickets for 106 runs by 14th over, but Smith (48 not out off 21) and Faulkner (41 not out off 17) combined excellently to guide the team towards victory.
The Australian duo scored the last 65 runs off just 17 balls to secure the win with seven balls to spare. In the process, they also stole the thunder from Yuvraj Singh, who had roared back to form with a strokeful 83 and followed it up with four wickets.
It all started in the 17th over as Faulkner smashed two fours and a six off fellow Australian Mitchel Starc. Smith began the next over, bowled by Ashok Dinda, with a six and two boundaries.
Faulkner then finished it off quickly in the 19th over, punishing Varun Aaron with two sixes and a four, stunning the RCB camp and the home fans.
With this win, the Royals have strengthened their position in top-four, although they remained in third position with 10 points. RCB are still at the sixth place with six points.
RCB owed their big total to Yuvraj and AB de Villiers (58) as they shared a magnificent 132 run stand, which powered them to 190 for five after electing to bat.
Yuvraj, who was dropped on 47 by Sanju Samson, and De Villiers combined well as the RCB scored 84 runs in the last five overs to snatch the momentum from their rivals, who were well in command till the 12th over.
Sending the Royals bowlers on a leather-hunt, the hosts belted 120 runs in the last eight overs.
The Royals’ chase was in trouble as Yuvraj, the bowler, rocked the visitors’ middle-order. His first wicket was the prized scalp of Royals skipper Shane Watson (1).
The left-armer also dismissed Royals’ top scorer Karun Nair (56), Stuart Binny (1) and Samson (13) to end with figures of 4-0-35-4.
The Royals were reeling at 106 for five in the 14th over, but what followed was stunning. From nowhere, Smith and Faulkner changed the game with some amazing batting under pressure.
Smith played a blinder, hitting four sixes and as many fours while Faulkner got three sixes and three fours.
Earlier, Yuvraj, who faced criticism for his slow batting, punished the Royals bowlers with seven fours and seven sixes in 38-ball knock.
De Villiers, who has been the most consistent RCB batsman of IPL VII, continued with his splendid form, punishing the bowlers with five sixes and a four.
Yuvraj and De Villiers were competing in hitting fours and sixes towards the end of the innings after RCB had a disastrous start.