Smith and Faulkner stun RCB
Rajasthan Royals 191 for 5 (Nair 56, Smith 48*, Faulkner 41*, Yuvraj 4-35) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 190 for 5 (Yuvraj 83, de Villiers 58) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Untill the 14th over of the Rajasthan Royals chase, it was the Yuvraj Singh show. He had shrugged off poor form with a pulverizing 83 off 38 to revive his side to 190 for 5 from 40 for 3. He had then taken four wickets to leave Rajasthan Royals reeling on 106 for 5. Royals needed 65 from the last four overs, but Steven Smith and James Faulkner catapulted them home with an over and a delivery to spare. Mitchell Starc went for 21 in the 17th over, Ashok Dinda for 23 in the 18th, and Varun Aaron for 21 in the 19th. Smith blitzed 48 off 21 deliveries, while Faulkner ended with a 17-ball 41.
Yuvraj's fourth wicket had been Karun Nair, whose 56 off 39 had given Royals a fine start, but his innings ended just as the team were beginning to lose steam. Aaron leaked 14 in the next over as Smith pulled, lofted and flicked him for boundaries. Still, Royal Challengers seemed to be ending the possibilities of any scares as legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal completed his spell by giving away only four runs in the 16th over.
What followed was so unexpected for them, Virat Kohli could only grit his teeth in helpless frustration as every bowler disappeared for plenty. Starc bowled some length balls in the 17th, and Faulkner drove and swung him for four and six before an outside-edged slog brought a third boundary in the over. Dinda began the 18th with two full deliveries that were taken for four and six. Dinda went wider now, and Smith responded by steering him to the deep-point boundary. Just as it seemed nothing could go wrong further for Royal Challengers, Dinda overstepped and bowled under the bat to be carted for a straight six. Smith could not get anything off the free-hit, but Faulkner took charge in the penultimate over with 21 needed.
Only a single came off the first ball before Aaron sent one down the leg side allowing the batsmen also to scamper for a bye. Royal Challengers continued to crack as Aaron delivered a length ball which was powered for six over long-on. A high full toss followed a wide full toss. Faulkner hit the first to the deep-cover rope and sent the second into the stunned Chinnaswamy crowd over deep square leg. He then ran towards Smith, jumped into an embrace and took his fellow Australian down on the ground.
Royal Challengers have now lost six of their previous seven games, and this one will take some time to forget. Their desperation to win was evident when they chose to bat after having bowled first six out of six times earlier this season, and when Kohli came out to open alongside Chris Gayle instead of batting at No 3. The pair were tied down, however, by some tight swing bowling from Kane Richardson and Shane Watson.
Kohli soon thick-edged a swipe to third man off Richardson while Gayle was tied down further by Rahul Tewatia's googlies and eventuelly caught behind off the other legspinner Pravin Tambe for a slow 19. India Under-19 captain Vijay Zol succumbed to Tewatia's seventh googly on the trot after hitting a few spunky fours, and Royal Challengers were going at under five an over when Yuvraj walked in.
Eleven overs later, Yuvraj walked back, having carted seven sixes and as many fours. His hitting was so severe and dominating, even AB de Villiers' 58 off 32 was overshadowed. The pair put on Royal Challengers' highest fourth-wicket partnership, scoring 132 runs in 10.5 overs.
Yuvraj got going with a series of sweeps against the legspinners. Batting with his back leg outside off stump, he found the combination of power and timing that makes him so destructive when he is in touch. Soon he was flicking the fast bowlers casually for six over the leg side. De Villiers hit five sixes and went at a strike-rate of 181.25 but it was hard even for him to take attention off Yuvraj.
Ajinkya Rahane and Nair put on 54 in seven overs for Royals but Chahal removed Rahane with his first delivery. In the next over, Yuvraj bowled Watson with an arm ball. Three balls later, Stuart Binny charged at Yuvraj and mishit to sweeper cover. Yuvraj kept striking, having Sanju Samson pop one back before taking out Nair, but his quota ran out eventually, and Smith and Faulkner brought the curtains down on his show.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo