De Villiers haunts Steyn again as Bangalore pull off unlikely run chase against Hyderabad

Victory halts three-game losing skid Royal Challengers Bangalore amassed in UAE
AB de Villiers of Royal Challengers Bangalore, pictured during an Indian Premier League match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on April 24, 2014, hit 89 off 41 balls to help Bangalore beat Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National
AB de Villiers of Royal Challengers Bangalore, pictured during an Indian Premier League match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on April 24, 2014, hit 89 off 41 balls to help Bangalore beat Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium was far from filled to capacity, but you would hardly have guessed that from the decibel levels generated last night from the crowd that had turned up to see the return of Royal Challengers Bangalore as they took on Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.

The constant stream of energy and the positive vibes generated by an unapologetically partisan crowd would have been enough to lift any side.

For long passages of play, however, it appeared as if this would be anything but a happy homecoming for Bangalore.

Coming into this game against Hyderabad on the back of three straight defeats in the UAE, Bangalore appeared to have sold themselves short during what should have been a straightforward chase of their opponent’s 155 for six, based on a third half-century in four innings from David Warner.

Their power-packed batting unit, woefully short of runs in the last three games, again floundered as a proud home record appeared under threat in Bangalore’s 100th IPL game. Then AB de Villiers decided it was time to announce his arrival.

The South African has had a quiet time of it this season, following up 45 in his first hit with 11, 0 and 17 in his last three innings. A return to the Chinnaswamy, with the crowds chanting “AB, AB”, brought the best out of the South African, who single-handedly took Bangalore to victory with one of the more extraordinary innings of this year’s competition.

De Villiers blasted Bangalore to a last-over, four-wicket victory to give their meandering IPL campaign just the push it needed.

In an assault reminiscent of what he did to his compatriot two seasons ago, De Villiers smashed Dale Steyn for 24 off the 19th over, ensuring that only four were required off the final over after Bangalore had gone into the last five overs needing 59 for an unlikely victory.

No prizes for guessing who scored a majority of those runs. De Villiers is the master innovator, but he is also outstanding when it comes to hitting straight down the ground. Six of his eight towering sixes were down the ground but the best was the scoop off Steyn over fine-leg as he moved across the stumps, the fastest bowler in the world forced to regurgitate painful memories of 2012 when De Villiers creamed him for 23 off the 18th over when Bangalore needed 39 off the last three overs.

De Villiers had walked into a crisis at 38 for 3, a crisis that was created by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who dismissed Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli in his first over. Bhuvneshwar was brilliant in a first spell of 3-0-7-2, getting the ball to swing away prodigiously, and even as Chris Gayle briefly latched on to Ishant Sharma – replacing Amit Mishra – Hyderabad held their own.

Karan Sharma, the legspinner, complemented Bhuvneshwar quite superbly while returning figures of 4-0-17-3, but the rest of the bowling was fairly ordinary. Between them, Ishant, Irfan Pathan and Darren Sammy went for 81 in just 46 deliveries. One of the stronger bowling units in the IPL crumbled meekly, though De Villiers’s role in that meltdown cannot be exaggerated.

It was in the fitness of things that de Villiers – let off on 30 by a leaping Karan at point – brought up the winning runs with a whip-drive wide of long-on, finishing unbeaten on 89 off 41 deliveries with six fours and eight sixes. Step aside, Glenn Maxwell. The original star is back.

For the fifth time in six games this season, Hyderabad failed to get anything substantial from their opening combination. Dhawan has been in the wars for a while now, but it was Aaron Finch who departed first, undone by a beauty from Mitchell Starc that climbed on him from a length and defeated his half-duck, half-pull to take the glove on its way to the wicketkeeper. KL Rahul was smartly taken by Gayle at slip seven deliveries later and, at 29 for 2, Hyderabad were in familiar territory.

The captain was joined in the middle by Warner, termed the most adaptable batsman in the side only the previous evening by Tom Moody, the Hyderabad coach. Warner showed why he was thoroughly deserving of that honour, batting according to the demands of the situation even if he did not hit peak fluency until the very last stages of his innings.

Shikhar Dhawan’s was an even more laborious stay. Aware that he needed to start to lead by example, he put mind over matter. His travails were all too apparent, but Dhawan was not going to throw his wicket away. It did not make for pretty viewing, but it showed that even in Twenty20 cricket, there is room for consolidation if it is undertaken with prudence and commonsense.

Bangalore gave very little away with the ball for the most part, the four-pronged pace attack spearheaded by Starc tidy and Yuzvendra Chahal holding his own with his legspin. The fielding, ragged and untidy at the start, gradually picked itself up and with a little more luck, Kohli could have accounted for Warner run out, narrowly missing the stumps on two occasions with the batsman well short of his ground.

Without ever moving beyond the third gear, Dhawan and Warner had pieced together 62 for the third wicket in 55 deliveries when Dhawan perished on the pull – not for the first time in his career – for a run-a-ball 37. That brought Sammy to the middle a little earlier than he would have liked, with seven overs remaining, and it also necessitated Warner to bat through the innings, a task he almost managed even while accelerating substantially in the second half of his essay.

Warner was the constant in stands of 24 (18b) for the fourth wicket with Sammy and 34 (18b) for the fifth with Naman Ojha. Starc was outstanding all the way through, but Warner lay into Ashok Dinda in a 16-run 18th over on his way to a second successive half-century, on the back of which Hyderabad strung together 49 in the last five overs to reach a competitive total. At various stages, it looked more than enough, until the miracle man deigned otherwise.

R Kaushik is deputy editor at Wisden India. Visit wisdenindia.com or follow them on Twitter for more on the IPL.

sports@thenational.ae

Published: May 4, 2014 04:00 AM

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