RCB into IPL final
Smith fires and loses; Gayle flops and wins
ngalore (RCB) beat Gujarat Lions in the first IPL qualifier, securing a place in this Sunday’s final with a four-wicket win.
De Villiers smashed five fours and five sixes in an unbeaten 79 off 47 balls as Bangalore brilliantly recovered from 29 for 5 to chase down 159 to win.
In-form RCB skipper Virat Kohli fell for a duck, while big-hitters Chris Gayle (nine) and Shane Watson (one) were also out cheaply –– Gujarat seamer Dhawal Kulkarni taking 4-14 in a devastating opening spell.
But, well-supported by Stuart Binny (21 off 15 balls) and Iqbal Abdulla (33 not out off 25), De Villiers’ sensational knock saw Bangalore through with 10 balls to spare.
Gujarat must now beat the winner of Wednesday’s eliminator between Surnrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders to see RCB again in the final.
Barbadian Dwayne Smith had earlier blasted 73 off 41 balls –– with six sixes and five fours –– to help Gujarat recover from their own sloppy start of 9 for 3 inside the four overs.
Bangalore had got off to the perfect start after Kohli won the toss and chose to bowl first –– Gujarat openers Brendon McCullum (one) and Aaron Finch (four) falling in the same Abdulla (2-38) over, and skipper Suresh Raina (one) becoming the first of four Shane Watson (4-29) victims.
But Smith showed his attacking intent with back-to-back fours off Abdulla in the fifth over and launched Yuzvendra Chahal for 16 in the 10th
Smith reached his half century off his 31st ball by blasting Abdulla for six over long on in the 13th over, though Dinesh Karthik (26) –– who he put on 85 with for the fourth wicket –– fell to Barbadian-born England international Chris Jordan (2-26) soon after.
Smith had swapped batting slots with Finch in Lions’ last game, against Mumbai Indians, and had looked in fluent touch while making a calm, unbeaten 37 to steer them home in a chase of 173. Today he struck the ball just as well here, in a more difficult situation. He eventually holed out in the 18th over caught by Kohli off Chahal.
Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals in the final overs, although Gujarat did manage to score 21 from the penultimate over, despite Watson picking up a further two strikes in it.
Disaster struck early in RCB’s reply when Kohli chopped Kulkarni onto his stumps in the second over. The seamer then bowled Gayle and had Lokesh Rahul caught at slip in consecutive balls in his next over.
Watson too fell to Smith at slip off Ravindra Jadeja (2-21), while Kulkarni picked up his fourth –– Sachin Baby out for a duck –– soon after.
It looked like the Lions were cruising into the final, but for the fact that De Villiers was still in the middle, and he gave them fair warning of the big-hitting assault that awaited with back-to-back fours off Jadeja in the seventh over.
Binny played his part too, taking 18 from Shadab Jakati’s first over, though was out lbw to Jadeja soon after.
With the run-rate required inching over 10 an over for the final six, De Villiers stepped up, smashing 10 in two balls off Smith, the first four seeing him through to 33-ball fifty.
De Villiers and Abdulla struck a six each off Jakati’s next over, while the latter struck three fours in a row off Dwayne Bravo’s 18th over.
It left just three runs needed from the final two overs, and Bangalore duly got them in the next two deliveries sparking wild celebrations.