AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali starred with quick-fire half-centuries as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in a high-scoring contest at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium by 14 runs on Thursday.
Asked to bat, RCB posted a mammoth 218/6 thanks to the duo’s pyrotechnics. Counter-attacking knocks by Sunrisers skipper Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey then threatened to take the game away from them. However, some deft death bowling by Tim Southee saw RCB restrict SRH to 204/3.
By virtue of this win, RCB climbed up to fifth spot in the table with 12 points from 13 games and need to win their last league game against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday to harbour any playoff hopes.
Here’s a look at some of the key talking points from the game.
Moeen Ali keeps the English flag flying high
As a bulk of England’s stars depart to resume international duty, teams like Rajasthan Royals have to find ways to minimise the impact of their absence going into the business end of the tournament.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have sparked a resurgence over the course of the last few weeks, have no such worries. In fact, their marquee English import Moeen Ali pulled off a clinical batting display on Thursday as RCB looked to maintain their run in pursuit of a playoff berth.
Ali, who has lost favour with the England selectors following a poor run of form against Australia and New Zealand, produced a crucial knock after being promoted up the order after Sunrisers Hyderabad sent RCB into bat in the must-win contest.
The all-rounder made most of the opportunity as he stroked 65 off 34 balls, stringing together a 107-run stand with AB de Villiers (69 runs 39 balls) for the third wicket.
Ali had not quite lit the stage on fire prior to Thursday’s knock. With openers Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli returning to the hut cheaply, the pressure was on the rest to shore up the batting against a Sunrisers outfit that has been in impervious form this season.
Ali led RCB’s charge against the tide. He dealt in sixes and took the lead even as De Villiers looked to settle down at the other end.
He smashed six sixes during his knock with two boundaries. De Villiers wasn’t too far behind, with 12 boundaries and one six. That one six found its way on top of the roof as De Villiers got down on one knee to slot a full toss from Basil Thampi way out of the park.
Thampi’s record-breaking ‘feat’
Basil Thampi’s return to the SRH playing XI proved to be a nightmare. The 24-year-old leaked 70 runs in his quota of four overs without a wicket to register the worst figures by a bowler in IPL history.
Brought into the playing XI in place of a rested Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Thampi was expected to help Sunrisers keep RCB’s dangerous batting order in check. However, he proved to be a disaster as the batsmen made merry thanks to his wayward line and length, which included a number of juicy full tosses.
The Kerala lad conceded 19, 18, 14, 19 in his four overs to surpass Ishant Sharma’s unenviable spell of 0/66 in 2013.
Thampi managed to bowl just two dot balls and was creamed for six sixes and five boundaries. He finished with an economy of 17.50. Thampi was the prime target for Ali and De Villiers, who laid the foundation for RCB’s 200-plus total. Despite their departure towards the fag end of the innings, there seemed to be no respite for Thampi as Colin de Grandhomme and Sarfaraz Khan fashioned a late flourish for RCB.
De Villiers’ gravity-defying catch
De Villiers on Thursday pulled off an incredible one-handed catch at the fence to leave cricket fans wide-eyed.
Fielding at deep mid-wicket, the South African had a chance to send back a dangerous Alex Hales who was threatening to set base for Sunrisers Hyderabad as they looked to chase down RCB’s mammoth target.
Hales, batting on 37, was eyeing the fence off nearly every ball. He looked to hoick one off Moeen Ali. He, and most viewers, felt he had the necessary height and distance needed to clear the fence and get another six under his belt. De Villiers, though, poured cold water on his hopes, pulling off a stunning catch.
He leaped in the air and extended a hand to pick the ball out of thin air and leave those watching gasping.
The catch upstaged Rashid Khan’s similar effort earlier in the day, prompting many to ask if it was indeed the catch of the season or even the best catch ever in the IPL?
Williamson’s counterattack goes in vain
Despite the early blow thanks to De Villiers’s brilliance, Sunrisers weren’t willing to throw in the towel. As has been the trend this season, it was captain Williamson (81 off 42) who once again took the attack to the opposition.
He began with a flurry of boundaries immediately after coming in. He targeted Tim Southee and Ali to keep his team abreast with the required run rate.
Williamson was ably supported by Pandey as the duo put on 135 runs for the second wicket off just 68 deliveries.
Williamson, in particular, looked in sublime touch as he struck the ball 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 pulled off a fine spell at the death. He conceded just six runs in the 18th over before coming back an over later as Sunrisers needed 20 runs from the last over.
Williamson’s dismissal in the first delivery of the final over sealed Sunrisers’s fate and they eventually fell short by 14 runs.