De Villiers' blitz breaks RCB's away jinx
Royal Challengers Bangalore 187 for 3 (Tiwary 52, de Villiers 50*) beat Pune Warriors 170 for 9 (Uthappa 75, Vinay 3-31) by 17 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Royal Challengers Bangalore finally got their first away win of the season, beating bottom-placed Pune Warriors by 17 runs. The margin of victory suggested a comprehensive win, but Royal Challengers were run close by Robin Uthappa, who showed his potential with a blazing fifty which gave Warriors hope of chasing a tall 188. AB de Villiers was at his innovative best with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 50 off 23 balls to launch Royal Challengers past 180. His blows were the difference in the end.
De Villiers' assault helped Royal Challengers ransack 68 off the last five overs. Warriors needed 66 off the last five overs, but with a set Uthappa at the crease, Royal Challengers couldn't afford to relax. Angelo Mathews too gave the visitors a scare with his cameo, but his untimely departure only piled further pressure on Uthappa. Uthappa's form was good news for Warriors, but had he received better support, the result could have been different.
The pitch at Pune has been one of the slower ones in the IPL and one that was going to test the batsmen more than the one in Bangalore when the teams last met. Chris Gayle found out the hard way early in his innings when he found the spinners hard to get away. It was a clever ploy by Warriors to take the pace off the ball, giving Ajantha Mendis the new ball and bringing in the part-timer T Suman. A repressed Gayle plodded to 15 off 19 balls before lofting Suman over the sightscreen for a six. It was hardly a sign of things to come as he tried to repeat that shot the following the ball and miscued it to deep extra cover, falling for a sluggish run-a-ball 21.
Since there was no blazing launchpad by Gayle for a change, it was unusual watching Royal Challengers scrap to 59 after nine overs. Saurabh Tiwary and Virat Kohli gave the innings some impetus with a rousing stand of 63. Tiwary, who has batted in the middle order, had requested to go up the order and he justified his promotion with a half-century.
The most decisive phase in the match came in the final over. De Villiers was on 24 off 17 balls when Ashok Dinda - not the most reliable death bowler - ran in. De Villiers moved across his stumps and smoked a full delivery outside off stump to deep midwicket for a flat six. The second was smashed over the bowler's head for four, the third over long-off for six, the fourth reverse-swept to third man and the fifth scooped over short fine leg. De Villiers had raced to 50 off 23 by the end of the over, rousing Royal Challengers and demoralising the Warriors before the chase began.
Warriors needed a pacy start but they too found the going difficult early on, moving to 49 for 2 after eight overs. Yuvraj Singh gave the innings a push with two exquisite sixes and his confidence began to rub off on Uthappa, who was starting to peak when he launched Muttiah Muralitharan over the sightscreen
Royal Challengers bounced back with two wickets in an over from Vinay, but Uthappa's was the wicket they needed. The equation narrowed after one over when Uthappa and Mathews targeted the most experienced of the lot, Muralitharan, smashing three clean sixes in one over. Forty-five off 24 was achievable, but Vinay provided some relief to the visitors when he had Mathews caught at backward point. Uthappa's heroics ended the following over when he top edged Murali Kartik to point. The chase was all but over when he walked back.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo