AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali struck breezy half-centuries as Royal Challengers Bangalore held their nerves under pressure to eke out a 14-run win over table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad in a must-win match in the Indian Premier League.
Asked to bat, RCB posted a mammoth 218 for six. Then, as Sunrisers skipper Kane Williamson (81 off 42) and Manish Pandey (62 off 38) threatened to take the game away from them, they clawed back into it to restrict SRH to 204 for three.
De Villiers (69 off 39) and Ali (65 off 34) overcame a bad start to score 107 runs off just 57 balls for the third wicket to set the platform for a big total.
Sunrisers were off to a great start as they reduced RCB to 38 for two inside five overs after opting to field.
Sandeep Sharma (1/40) struck the first blow with the last ball of the opening over, removing Parthiv Patel caught by Siddharth Kaul at third man boundary.
De Villiers and Ali destroy SRH bowling
De Villiers then got into the act for RCB, hitting some exquisite boundaries off Shakib Al Hasan and Sandeep before Rashid cleaned up skipper Virat Kohli (12) with a googly in the fifth over.
Brought into the attack in the eighth over, Basil Thampi leaked runs as Ali smashed consecutive sixes off the pacer – first over mid-off and then over square-leg boundary.
De Villiers brought up his fifty off 32 balls with two consecutive boundaries off Kaul (2/44) in the 12th over and then Ali followed suit notching up his maiden IPL half-century with a four of Thampi in the next over.
After the duo perished, Colin de Grandhomme (40 off 17 balls) and Sarfaraz Khan (22 off 8 balls) took RCB past 200 and then some more.
Afghanistan’s leg-spinner Rashid Khan once again shone with the ball for Sunrisers with figures of 3/27 from his four overs.
Chasing 219, Sunrisers started on a positive note piling up 47 runs off the first five overs before Shikhar Dhawan hit one straight back to Yuzvendra Chahal off his own bowling in the next over.
Alex Hales (37 off 24) was going great guns before De Villiers pulled off a blinder at midwicket boundary off Ali to send the Englishman back.
But Sunrisers captain Williamson took the attack to the opposition and hit a flurry of boundaries off Tim Southee and Ali to keep his team abreast with the required run rate.
Williamson was ably supported by Pandey at the other end as the duo put on 135 runs for the second wicket off just 68 deliveries.
Williamsion, in particular, looked in sublime touch as he struck the balls to all parts of the ground without much risk, while Pandey took his time to get going.
Eventually, the asking rate proved to be too tall for Sunrisers as Southee bowled superbly at the death. He conceded just six runs and then came back an over later to give Sunrisers a 20-run target from the last over.
Williamson’s dismissal in the first delivery of the final over sealed Sunrisers’ fate and they eventually fell short by 14 runs.
By virtue of this win, RCB climb up to the fifth spot with 12 points from 13 games and need to win their last league game against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday to harbour any play-off hopes.