Pune, May 20: AB de Villiers combined with Mandeep Singh for a game-changing partnership as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) eliminated Rajasthan Royals (RR) from the IPL 2015 with a splendid 71-run win, here tonight.
De Villiers and Mandeep lifted RCB to 180/4 in 20 overs. Rajasthan never looked convincing in their chase as they kept losing wickets and eventually folded for just 109 in 19 overs, built around Ajinkya Rahane's fighting 42. Rajasthan's surprise capitulation reduced it to a lop-sided affair and their total was the lowest in the IPL playoffs.
Bangalore will now play against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the second Qualifier on Friday (May 22) in Ranchi, the winner of which will lock horns with Mumbai Indians (MI) in the summit clash on Sunday (May 24) in Kolkata.
In-form Watson exits early
Rajasthan lost in-form Shane Watson (10) and Sanju Samson (5) cheaply and the onus was on Rahane and skipper Steve Smith to bring the side back in the contest.
The two looked like raising a partnership but David Wiese dismissed Smith (12) at the start of the ninth over with only 55 runs on the board. Rahane kept losing partners as now Karun Nair (12) was caught behind off Harshal Patel.
The required rate had zoomed up to 15 and Rahane was left with no option but to go all out and in the process he lost his wicket when he swept Yuzvendra Chahal, managed only an edge, which was easily taken by De Villiers.
Nothing was going Rajasthan's way as James Faulkner was dismissed in a bizarre fashion. The Australian hit a low full toss from Sreenath Aravind, the edge hit the toe of the batsman and flew towards the bowler, who took an easy catch in his follow through.
Stuart Binny (0) was run out first and it was all over for Rajasthan. Patel (2/15) and Aravind (2/20) took two wickets apiece.
De Villiers, Mandeep propel RCB to 180/4
Earlier, De Villers hit a fighting 66 and shared a 113-run stand with Mandeep (54 not out) as RCB recovered from a sluggish start to post a challenging 180/4.
Electing to bat, RCB had managed only 60 runs in the first 10 overs but thanks to sensible batting by De Villiers and Mandeep, the team scored 120 in the next 10.
It was Mandeep, who provided the innings impetus initially and later De Villiers went hammer and tongs.
De Villiers' 66 came off 38 balls with four sixes and as many fours while Mandeep took 34 balls for his unbeaten 54, which had seven fours and two sixes.
Rajasthan had the proceedings firmly under their grip but they leaked 86 runs in last six overs to let it slip.
Four bowlers swung their arms in the Power-play and they were reasonably successful to tame the big-hitting Chris Gayle (27). It was only when Dhawal Kulkarni bowled that the marauding Caribbean got the chance to open his arms.
Largely, Gayle was on strike and Rajasthan bowlers did a commendable job to keep the West Indies batsman quiet. They bowled wicket-to-wicket and the ball was also getting purchase from the wicket as it had bounce.
In the last ball of the Power-play overs, Gayle missed the line completely as Kulkarni hit the top of the middle stump, leaving RCB 41 for 1.
In his next over, Kulkarni jolted the rivals by scalping Kohli (12), who handed a simple return catch to the bowler as he miscued one and the leading edge was there to be taken.
RR bowlers dominate
De Villiers was at the crease but the bowlers dominations continued as RCB were 60 for 2 in 10 overs. Kulkarni completed his quota of overs with decent figures of 4-0-28-2. Mandeep looked for boundaries and he did hit come clean shots to the fence.
Such was the discipline of the bowlers that even De Villiers found it hard to get big shots. The windy conditions too made the stroke-making difficult.
The South African broke the shackles with a six off spinner Ankit Sharma, bringing 100 for the team the 50-run stand with Mandeep.
He hit another six and a four in the same over, collecting 19 runs. The left-arm spinner had given away only 9 runs in his earlier two overs.
The two batsmen then took turns to punish the bowlers as RR started losing control. De Villers was run out in the penultimate over. Mandeep completed his fifty with a six and a four off James Faulkner.