AB snatches most amazing win
AB de Villiers played one of the greatest Indian Premier League innings ever seen as his sensational onslaught took theRoyal Challengers Bangalore to a five-wicket win over the Deccan Chargers and back to the brink of the playoff places at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.
The Challengers, chasing 182 for victory, were struggling to get on top of the persistent Chargers bowlers and they went into the last five overs needing 69 runs.
They almost immediately lost the top-scorer, Tillakaratne Dilshan, for a fantastic 71 off 54 balls, but De Villiers went on to steal the show with an astonishing innings of 47 not out off just 17 balls, with five fours and three sixes.
Whatever the reputation of T20 cricket, the onslaught De Villiers unleashed on countryman Dale Steyn in the 18th over was some of the best cricket one can ever hope to see.
To the man in the street, Steyn, who had earlier bowled a magnificent maiden over to Chris Gayle, is the best fast bowler in the world, and De Villiers is rapidly earning a reputation as the number one batsman.
Steyn's bowling was accurate, putting every ball pretty much where he wanted to, but De Villiers was always a step ahead. The first ball of the over was short and imperiously pulled for six, the second delivery was an excellent yorker which De Villiers squeezed through square-leg for two runs.
De Villiers then clubbed a slower ball through wide mid-on for four, before playing the most extraordinary shot of them all, backing away and lifting another 146km/h yorker over extra cover for six. The South African limited-overs captain then stepped outside off stump and paddled another four, before keeping the strike as he calmy steered a lifter to third man.
Anand Rajan was the other bowler to suffer at the hands of De Villiers's brilliance as he hit him for four, four and six off the first three balls of what turned out to be the final over, Bangalore winning with seven balls to spare.
The Challengers' other big gun, Chris Gayle, was content to play second fiddle to Dilshan as he scored 26 off 22 balls in a first-wicket stand of 91 off just 64 balls.
Rajan gained the scalp of Gayle, bowling him the ball after the left-hander had launched him for a massive six out of the ground, and the match seemed to have turned in the favour of the visitors when leg-spinner Amit Mishra took two wickets in the 14th over.
The first was down to the brilliance of Steyn in the field as he leapt to pluck Virat Kohli's sweetly-struck drive out of the sky at wide long-off and Steyn contributed to the second wicket as well when he caught Asad Pathan for four.
Dilshan, who had gone fluently to his half-century off just 29 balls, the bowlers having no answer to his commanding strokeplay, suddenly seemed to have doubts as he scored just 21 runs off his next 25 balls. He hit Veer Pratap Singh for four through square-leg but then missed the next ball aiming for the same place and was bowled.
Mayank Agarwal then came in and scored a priceless 18 off six balls, including a four and two sixes, before he missed a slog-sweep at Ashish Reddy and was given out lbw.
But then De Villiers took over and produced the most extraordinary and breathtaking of match-winning innings.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan and Cameron White were once again in fine form as they led the Deccan Chargers to 181 for two.
Opener Dhawan and White added 82 in 44 balls to boost the Chargers after a solid but unspectacular start on a good pitch and a small field in Bangalore.
White was spectacular as he plundered 45 off 24 balls, with three sixes, before skying a pull off Prasanth Parameswaran and being caught by the bowler in the final over.
Dhawan scored an elegant, fluent 73 not out off 52 balls, with 10 fours and a six. This is his third half-century of the season, but his highest score.
The big news of the day in terms of team selection was that Bangalore captain Daniel Vettori had dropped himself in favour of the more penetrative Muttiah Muralitharan and, even though the great Sri Lankan did not take a wicket, he was the home side's best bowler, conceding just 18 runs in his four overs.
Despite the presence of international stars such as Muralitharan and Zaheer Khan, the Bangalore attack still looked paper thin with Parameswaran taking the only wicket to fall to a bowler as late as the final over.
Australian Daniel Harris, brought into the team as an opening batsman, scored a powerful 47 off 41 balls as he and Dhawan made a strong start, adding 86 for the first wicket off 71 balls.
The partnership was ended by a run out as Harris, charging off for a silly run, was beaten back to the bowler's end as Kohli swooped wonderfully in the covers.
That was in the 12th over and White settled in well before hitting the ball hard and straight in his final onslaught.
Parameswaran's last three overs cost 39 runs and Abhimanyu Mithun was hit for 6,4,4 by White as the 17th over ended disastrously for Bangalore. The last five overs of the innings brought 64 runs as the Challengers bowlers were hit silly.
Kumar Sangakkara hit a six and a four in the three balls he faced in the final over.
Left-arm paceman Zaheer was the next best of the Bangalore bowlers, conceding 32 runs in his four overs.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Asad Pathan, Syed Mohammad, Zaheer Khan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Prasanth Parameswaran, Muttiah Muralitharan.
DECCAN CHARGERS - Daniel Harris, Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Cameron White, Kumar Sangakkara, Akshath Reddy, Ashish Reddy, Amit Mishra, Dale Steyn, Anand Rajan, Veer Pratap Singh.