Pune: Captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers smashed brisk half centuries to guide Royal Challengers Bangalore to a well-deserved 13-run win over Rising Pune Supergiants in an Indian Premier League match, here on Friday night.
Sent into bat, RCB rode on De Villiers' 83 off 46 balls with the help of six boundaries and two sixes and Kohli's 80 off 63 deliveries, during which he struck seven fours and two hits over the fence, to post a fighting 185 for five.
Later, RCB bowlers rose to the occasion and somehow just managed to restrict Pune to 172 for eight.
Chasing the target, Pune had a horrid start to their chase, slumping to 18 for two by the end of the third over. Ajinkya Rahane (60 off 46 balls) started off the chase in great fashion, hitting Stuart Binny for two classical boundaries in the first over.
But thereafter Pune's chase went haywire as Faf du Plessis (2) departed in the next over when he was caught by Harshal Patel off Kane Richardson (3/13) at mid-off which was followed by Kevin Pietersen's retirement after he pulled his calf muscle while going for a single in the next over.
To make matters worse for Pune, Steven Smith (4) was run out in the third over by a direct hit from Kohli. Then Rahane and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (41) shared 91 runs off 73 balls for the third wicket to keep Pune afloat.
Rahane was the initiator in the partnership while Dhoni tried to give him company to build a partnership. Rahane made 60 off 46 balls with the help of eight boundaries before the ever climbing asking rate took a toll on him. He fell in the 15th over stumped by KL Rahul off debutant chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi (1/36) while going for an extravagant shot.
An over later, Dhoni departed also in the pursuit of a big shot, caught at long-off by De Villiers off Harshal Patel (1/46). But there was more drama in store as Thisara Perera (34 off 13 balls) and Rajat Bhatia (21 off 1) shared a quick-fire 44 runs off just 14 balls to raise the hopes of Pune.
In fact, the turnaround came in the 18th over when Patel conceded a whopping 25 runs. Perera struck the hapless bowler for two boundaries and as many sixes while Bhatia struck a six to turn things around for Pune.
But just when it seemed the match was slipping away from RCB's hand, Shane Watson came to his side's rescue claiming two wickets in the next over off dangerous Perera and Ravichandran Ashwin.
With Pune needing 21 runs off the last over, Richardson dismissed Bhatia and Murugan Ashwin off consecutive balls to strike the final nail in Pune's coffin.
Earlier, RCB rode on Kohli and de Villiers fiery knocks to post the imposing total. Thisara Perera (3/34) was the pick of the bowlers for Pune, picking up all the three wickets to fall.
RCB had a relatively quiet start, stitching 27 runs off 22 balls for the opening wicket before KL Rahul (7) became the first victim. Rahul was caught at thirdman by Ishant Sharma off Perera's bowling as the batsman went for an ugly hoick, only to get a thick outside edge.
But the dismissal brought together two most destructive batsmen of modern day cricket in Kohli and De Villiers and as expected the duo played fearless cricket and displayed a vast array of shots to put together 155 runs off just 95 balls for the second wicket.
As usual De Villiers was at his attacking best from the word go while Kohli played the second fiddle. De Villiers and Kohli shared their fourth half-century stand this season with a two off Bhatia in 9.5 overs.
De Villiers came out with a plan and targeted young Murugan Ashwin by welcoming the spinner with a six and then followed it up with another hit over the fence in the final ball of the 11th over.
De Villiers didn't let Murugan Ashwin settle down and smashed the bowler for two boundaries in his next over. Kohli and De Villiers brought up their third century stand this season in the 15th over.
An over later Kohli got a lifeline when Ankit Sharma dropped a skier off Ravichandran Ashwin.
It was all Kohli and De Villiers show till the last over when both the batsmen perished in successive balls in search of big shots but note before setting the platform for the huge total.
Kohli started off the final over in great fashion, hitting Perera for two boundaries before the Sri Lankan got both the set batsmen in successive balls, holed out by Rahane and Ankit Sharma....