De Villiers blitz downs Sunrisers
Royal Challengers Bangalore 158 for 6 (de Villiers 89*, Karn Sharma 3-17) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 155 for 6 (Warner 61) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Royal Challengers Bangalore possess the most power-packed batting line-up in the IPL. They hadn't fired in the UAE leg of the tournament, but now they were back in their natural habitat at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, home to one of the best batting decks and some of the shortest boundaries in the world. At the toss Virat Kohli said his team knew the venue intimately, and he backed his batsmen to chase any target.
On Sunday, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they had to chase 156. No team chasing 156 or less had ever lost here.
Royal Challengers came close to doing that. They lost Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli in the second over of their innings, and they lost Chris Gayle a little while after. Rilee Rossouw, sent in to bat at 6 for 2 on his IPL debut, was out after scoring 14 off 23. Yuvraj Singh then went for 14 off 16. Royal Challengers needed 61 from 33, and they were sinking.
But they still had AB de Villiers. A de Villiers who was getting down on one knee and launching anything remotely full over the straight boundary. When Yuvraj went, de Villiers was on 33 from 19, and had already struck three sixes.
Two more sixes and a four came off the next over, bowled by Darren Sammy, but Dale Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar pulled things back by conceding just 12 from the 17th and 18th. On came Steyn again, with figures of 0 for 16 in three overs. Royal Challengers needed 28 from 12, and de Villiers was on strike.
The first ball, a slower ball, disappeared over deep square leg. The next went straight over the sightscreen. There are times when a batsman is simply seeing it too well, and there was nothing Steyn could do to stop de Villiers.
Two years ago, de Villiers had taken 23 runs off a Steyn over at the same ground. It became 23 for the over once again when de Villiers walked across his crease and scooped the last ball over the fine leg boundary and into the second tier of the stands.
Steyn applauded. It was that kind of shot. After de Villiers made the winning hit in the next over, swiping Irfan Pathan to the midwicket boundary, Steyn went up to the batsman and embraced him. It was that kind of innings.
Until de Villiers intervened, the match had been short of such typically Bangalorean happenings. After losing two early wickets, Sunrisers took their time to get going, with Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner going at under seven an over during their partnership of 62.
Part of this was down to some tight bowling from the home team, with Yuzvendra Chahal proving particularly hard to get away. He slid the ball across the two left-handers, Dhawan and Warner, took care not to drop the ball into their hitting zones, and bowled a lot of googlies.
Chahal went for 13 in his last over, with Warner finally managing to get him away, but till then, his spell had asked uncomfortable questions of the theory that legspinners can't bowl to left-handers in Twenty20 cricket. Karn Sharma did more of the same when Royal Challengers batted, dismissing Gayle, Rossouw and Yuvraj - three left-handers - while going for just 17 in his four overs. Still, Sunrisers were probably right to have left out Amit Mishra, considering the pitch, the opposition, his own form, and the slower pace at which he bowls.
When Chahal finished his spell, Sunrisers were 106 for 3 after 15. Despite losing Darren Sammy in the next over, they added 49 in the last five, with Warner profiting from a spate of full-tosses from Ashok Dinda in the 18th. It still seemed like they hadn't put enough on the board, considering the venue and their opponents, and in the end Royal Challengers simply had one world-class batsman too many.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo