AB de Villiers’ powerful 64 off 35 balls gave the Royal Challengers enough muscle to beat the Kings XI by one run on Monday night.
It proved the difference as he almost single-handedly took the Challengers from 67-3 to 155-4 after 18 overs.
They ended on a nervous 175-6, but they seemed to have the game under control, even with Murali Vijay scoring 89 off 57 (12×4, 1×6). He and Hashim Amla, promoted to opener in his second game, put on 45 off 33 balls.
But then they were pegged back, mainly by Shane Watson (2-22), until they needed 37 off the last three overs, and 17 off the last. Despite the efforts of Marcus Stoinis (30 off 22), they fell agonisingly short. Farhaan Behardien, coming in for the misfiring Glenn Maxwell, in his first game for the team, was with him at the end, on nine off seven.
Earlier, the Challengers had a roller-coaster ride. They powered their way to 56 in the powerplay, but three wickets in seven balls changed the scenario. Two of those came in three balls from KC Cariappa’s legbreaks. He first bowled Lokesh Rahul for 42 (off 25) and then had Virat Kohli taken at short cover for 20 off 21. Five balls later, Watson was gone, bowled by Axar Patel’s left-arm spin.
At the halfway point, the Challengers had struggled to 73-3. AB and Sachin Baby had to consolidate, but they struggled to find the boundary. After 15 overs, they had managed just one four apiece as AB sat on 25, and Baby on 24.
That was the signal for AB, who had had two miserable innings leading into this, to do what he does best. He launched himself at the bowling, smashing two sixes on this large ground and adding another four fours.