De Villiers, Mandeep fifties crush Royals
Royal Challengers Bangalore 180 for 4 (De Villiers 66, Mandeep 54*, Kulkarni 2-28) beat Rajasthan Royals 109 (Rahane 42, Harshal 2-15, Aravind 2-20, Chahal 2-20) by 71 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Royal Challengers Bangalore set up a clash with Chennai Super Kings for a place in the final as they sent Rajasthan Royals out of the tournament with a commanding performance.
Two of the big three Royal Challengers batsmen failed, but the third, AB de Villiers, made up for that with 66 off 38. Mandeep Singh chose a knockout game to make the first half-century of the season from a Royal Challengers batsman not answering to those three big names. De Villiers and Mandeep added 113 for the third wicket at more than 10 an over to propel Royal Challengers to 180 for 4. On a ground with a highest successful chase of 166 in the IPL, it was too many runs in the pressure of a must-win chase. Royals crumbled without any fight, losing wickets regularly to go down by 71 runs.
On a hard and grassy but also two-paced pitch, Royal Challengers lost Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli to Dhawal Kulkarni by the eighth over before reaching 50. Mandeep and de Villiers took a few deliveries to get their bearings before decisively batting Royals out of the match.
Mandeep started the counter when he pulled and lofted Kulkarni for consecutive boundaries in the tenth over. Still, Royal Challengers were going at run a ball at the halfway mark. They were to take 86 off the last six overs, Royals' death-bowling letting them down again as none of those overs went for less than 11.
No batsman barring Mandeep and de Villiers was able to time the ball consistently on the Pune pitch. Mandeep was strong on the pull and the cut. Gradually, de Villiers found his hitting rhythm too, against left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma in the 15th over, when he slogged two sixes and powered a four to deep extra cover.
James Faulkner went for 42 from four overs to end a disappointing season with an economy-rate of 9.46. Chris Morris had a rare off day too, leaking the same number of runs.
With such a stiff target, Royals needed their top order to come good. It wasn't to be. Shane Watson chased and nicked a wide one from S Aravind in the second over. Sanju Samson's promotion to No. 3 did not work as Harshal Patel bounced him out. With the asking-rate galloping, Steven Smith grew desperate for the big hit and holed out off David Wiese.
Helpless to stop the exit of batsmen at the other end, and struggling to get the measure of the pitch, Ajinkya Rahane departed for 42 off 39 in the 14th over. There was to be no sparkle from Deepak Hooda. There was to be no finishing from Faulkner. There was to be only a heavy defeat.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo