South Africa’s AB de Villiers hit an unbeaten 79 to single-handedly steer Royal Challengers Bangalore into the Indian Premier League cricket final, beating Gujarat Lions by four wickets in the first Qualifier Tuesday.
Chasing 159 for victory at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the Royal Challengers were reduced to 68 for six before De Villiers’ blitz fired the team home in 18.2 overs.
Gujarat medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni (4-14) hurt Bangalore with early strikes as red-hot openers Virat Kohli (0) and Chris Gayle (9) were back in the dug out early.
Coming in at number three De Villiers stayed calm to stitch an unbeaten 91-run partnership with Iqbal Abdullah (33) to stun the opposition in front of a raucous home crowd.
Man of the match De Villiers smashed five fours and five sixes during his 47-ball stay as the top-order batsman snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat.
Earlier put into bat Gujarat rode on West Indies batsman Dwayne Smith’s 41-ball 73 to post a respectable 158 all out in 20 overs.
Smith lifted Gujarat from a precarious nine for three to stitch a 85-run fourth wicket partnership with Dinesh Karthik as the duo counter attacked with great effect.
The Windies allrounder took charge to teach the Bangalore spinners a bitter lesson as he smashed five boundaries and 6 sixes during his entertaining knock.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal got the dangerous Smith back in the dug out as Australian allrounder Shane Watson (4-29) wiped out the Gujarat tail.
After left-arm spinner Abdullah’s double strike to get openers Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch out early it was Watson who hurt Gujarat’s bid to score big.
The Suresh Raina-led Gujarat though will have another shot at securing a final berth when they meet the winner of the Eliminator in the second Qualifier in New Delhi on Friday.