Classy Kallis keeps Bangalore alive
Royal Challengers Bangalore (Kallis 58*, Dravid 38, Taylor 25, Nagar 2-20) beat Delhi Daredevils 134 for 7 (Karthik 31, Praveen 3-30, Kumble 2-24) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Royal Challengers Bangalore boosted their chances of securing a place in the semi-finals, winning a crucial game against Delhi Daredevils fairly comfortably at the Wanderers. Jacques Kallis starred in an excellent all-round performance, playing an important role in restricting Delhi to a chaseable score, and shepherding the chase with an assured half-century to take his team to fourth place.
Bangalore were dented early with the wicket of Robin Uthappa, but Rahul Dravid and Kallis timed the chase well, intent on preserving their wickets in early phase before opening up. They did get themselves into a bit of a hole after the early setback, struggling to get singles, and relying instead on the bad balls to score off. They inched to 27 in the Powerplay, with boundaries - including a six over midwicket by Kallis - accounting for 18 of those runs. But with the field spread, and the batsmen set, the rest of the innings panned out according to plan.
Virender Sehwag may have missed a trick by opting to bring the spinner in as late as the ninth over. Though the opening bowlers Ashish Nehra and Avishkar Salvi had proved tidy, neither Dravid nor Kallis had offered any chances. They then approached the chase as one would in an ODI, piercing the field with little difficulty and scoring the odd boundary to knock off 27 in the four overs before the timeout. The only scare was an incredibly difficult attempt at a catch by AB de Villiers at cover, who failed to latch onto a ball hammered by Kallis.
Amid the spate of singles and twos, Dravid and Kallis ensured there were no wasted opportunities. Andrew McDonald's first ball, a juicy half-volley was duly dispatched for a boundary by Dravid and a rank long hop from Vettori received the same treatment. But just when a predictable outcome seemed on the cards, Dravid lobbed a catch back to offspinner Yogesh Nagar.
With 65 needed off 48, Delhi still had an outside chance, but Ross Taylor quashed it with a blistering cameo, displaying shades of the monstrous assault against Kolkata which put Bangalore back in contention for a place in the top four. He wasted little time to settle into his groove, leading the charge in the 14th over, punishing freebies from Salvi for a four over extra cover and a massive six over midwicket. Nagar then erred in length the next over to watch the ball sail over deep midwicket and deep square leg for two more sixes, before Taylor - a victim of complacency - holed out to long-on. But the damage had been done, though a tight over from Vettori next up gave Delhi the only sign of hope.
The game was effectively sealed in the 18th over, with Kallis launching Vettori for six and a four over cover to narrow it down to 9 off 12. Mark Boucher flicked Nehra for a boundary, and the pair knocked off the rest in singles to complete a comprehensive win against the table-toppers.
Bangalore's win was set up by a professional bowling effort, as Kallis and Praveen Kumar struck early to dent a strong Delhi line-up on a slow pitch. The spinners, led by Anil Kumble, then took over, restraining the middle order before Dinesh Karthik staged an inadequate recovery.
The tone was set in the first over with the wicket of a struggling Virender Sehwag, who failed to curb his instinct, clipping Praveen straight to square leg. When Mithun Manhas, promoted to No.3, top-edged an attempted hook to slip two balls later, the responsibility, yet again, was palmed off to the middle order.
Kallis had struggled as a bowler this tournament, capturing just four wickets and proving ridiculously expensive. But his spell today marked a stark contrast, as he used his variations well, consistently probed the batsmen by maintaining a tight line outside offstump and dried up the runs at one end. Though Delhi had been provided some release by an undeterred Gautam Gambhir, Kallis was rewarded for his persistence when the left hander mistimed an attempt to clear point.
Spin has played a decisive influence in the tournament, often introduced before the Powerplay, but Kallis' frugality meant that Roelof van der Merwe didn't come on until the eighth over. Delhi did their best to keep up the run-rate, de Villiers scoring a run-a-ball 28, but when he, their best batsman, failed to pick an arm ball by van der Merwe, Bangalore were firmly in control. Pace ceded the floor to spin, and the newbie Andrew McDonald, replacing Tillakaratne Dilshan, was yorked by Anil Kumble to continue the slide.
Karthik and Nagar cobbled up a fighting stand of 39, but both fell trying to accelerate. Delhi did post a competitive score, and a slow track, holding up and taking spin, gave them reason for encouragement. But they were undone by a brilliantly executed run-chase, that has intensified the race for the knockout stage.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo