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Williamson special in vain as de Villiers, Moeen keep RCB alive

Royal Challengers Bangalore 218 for 6 (De Villiers 69, Moeen 65, Rashid 3-27) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 204 for 3 (Williamson 81, Pandey 62*, Chahal 1-28) by 14 runs

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Swann: Williamson took the pressure off Pandey

Our experts, Graeme Swann and Ajit Agarkar, marvel at the skills of Kane Williamson and reckon RCB did just enough to stay alive in the tournament

Kane Williamson's rousing 81 off 42 balls - his eighth fifty-plus score in IPL 2018 - threatened to bring Royal Challengers Bangalore's campaign to a screeching halt, but Mohammed Siraj defended 19 off the last over, which also included the wicket of the Sunrisers captain, to keep his team alive.

Facing an IPL record chase of 219 at the venue of their title triumph two years ago, Sunrisers slipped to 64 for 2 in eight overs. Williamson then manipulated the fields and the bowlers expertly to bring Sunrisers to within touching distance of a magical win. With Sunrisers needing 20 off the last over, he jumped across off stump and scooped Siraj's first ball straight into the lap of Colin de Grandhomme at the edge of the fine leg boundary. Siraj did not quite nail his lengths but got away with four runs and a leg bye off the last five balls.

Earlier in the evening, AB de Villiers had also manipulated the fields and bowlers expertly along with Moeen Ali in a 107-run stand off 57 balls, which formed the centerpiece of RCB's 218 for 6.

Hit-or-miss Powerplay

Parthiv Patel was dropped first ball at cover by Deepak Hooda, but he added just one before top-edging Sandeep Sharma to fine leg. Virat Kohli began with a straight drive for four off Sandeep and swatted Rashid Khan to the midwicket boundary, before being bowled attempting a slog sweep off a googly. RCB were 44 for 2, in six overs, of which de Villiers had made 29.

The superman and his sidekick

De Villiers found his groove right away when he jumped outside leg, created swinging room, and cut his first ball that was only fractionally short to the right of backward point. It was a portent for how things would unfold. De Villiers slog-swept Shakib Al Hasan to the midwicket boundary and then hit back-to-back fours off Siddarth Kaul, the second of which brought him a 32-ball fifty.

It wasn't a one-man show, however. Moeen introduced his big hits and crisp timing to the IPL after warming the bench for more than three-quarters of the season. Both batsmen launched into Thampi - they took 36 off 12 balls - but it was the left-handed Moeen who was more comfortable against Rashid. He forayed down the track against a wrong'un and hoisted the ball over the long-off boundary before belting a legbreak over his head. There were some mis-hits, too, which cleared the boundary, as RCB moved to 144 for 2 in 14 overs. Against the run of play, however, the set pair fell fell to Rashid in the next over.

De Grandhomme smashes 'em

The last time these two teams met in Hyderabad, De Grandhomme showed signs of his power with 33 off 29 balls. He showed his entire range on Thursday and peppered the short boundaries at Chinnaswamy Stadium with four sixes. Not even the slower cutter was safe against him. When Thampi floated one wide outside off at 97 kph, de Grandhomme reached out for the ball and scythed it flat and hard over cover. Thampi ended up conceding 70 runs in four overs - the most expensive figures in the IPL. It took a blinding one-handed catch from Rashid to dismiss the New Zealand allrounder, but by then RCB had motored past 200. Sarfaraz Khan also did his bit with an unbeaten 22 off 8 balls as RCB pillaged 69 off the last five overs.

Hales lives on the edge

Alex Hales was on 19 when he pulled Umesh Yadav flat and hard to deep square leg, where Tim Southee dived forward and wrapped his fingers underneath the ball to claim an excellent a low catch. The soft signal was out, but TV umpire C Shamshuddin somehow ruled it not out. After adding four runs, Hales drilled Siraj towards mid-on, where Kohli threw himself to his left but dropped the difficult catch. RCB then needed de Villiers to pluck a catch out of thin air to get rid of Hales. When the opener swatted one over midwicket, the ball seemed destined to sail over the boundary until de Villiers leapt to his right, stretched out his right hand, and came away with the ball. All of this done with the balance of a tightrope walker. Yuzvendra Chahal had taken a more straightforward return catch to remove Dhawan for 18 off 15 balls.

Another Williamson special

The highlight of Williamson's stellar run this season has been his game awareness. That came to the fore when he cranked up the tempo and struck five boundaries in six balls after Hales' dismissal. The pick of the boundaries was a perfectly placed shovel-flick between wide long-on and midwicket. Just like that, Williamson raised a fifty off 28 balls. By then, Manish Pandey was going at less than a run-a-ball. The re-introduction of de Grandhomme in the 15th over provided him the release. From 6 off 12 balls, he went to 21 off 16 balls with two fours and a six.

Pandey then glanced Chahal past short fine leg in the next over to help narrow the equation to 55 off 24 balls. An over full of wide yorkers from Southee left Sunrisers needing 49 off 18 balls. With Williamson in imperious form, they were in with a good chance, but he faced only eight balls in the last five overs before his dismissal and Pandey could not find his timing in the end.

Sunrisers 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st47S DhawanAD Hales
2nd17AD HalesKS Williamson
3rd135KS WilliamsonMK Pandey
4th5MK PandeyDJ Hooda