AB de Villiers of Royal Challengers Bangalore pulled off a sensational victory against underdogs Deccan Chargers late Sunday at the Chinnaswamy stadium here to keep their hopes alive for a place in playoffs in the Indian Premier League.
Chasing an imposing target of 182, the South African wicket-keeper snatched the game away from Deccan Chargers single-handedly with belligerent batting that enabled the hosts to win by five wickets in 18.5 overs.
Coming to the crease at the fall of Asad Pathan (4) when the score was 106 for 3 in the 14th over, man-of-the match de Villiers hit an unbeaten 47 in 17 balls with three mighty sixes and five fours.
Taking charge of the game after Dilshan Tillakarathne was bowled by Pratap Singh for 71 in the 16th over, de Villiers launched a savage attack on Deccan Chargers by hitting even their fiery pacer Dale Steyn for 23 runs, including two mighty sixes and two fours in 18th over, turning the game in Royal Challengers' favour.
When Mayank Agarwal (18) fell at 143 in 17th over, Royal Challengers was virtually staring at defeat with the top order back in pavilion. But de Villiers remained unfazed and turned aggressive, finishing the game in style, hitting a whopping 72 runs in 3.5 overs, including an unbeaten 43-run partnership with Syed Mohammad.
Though Royal Challengers' openers Dilshan and Chris Gayle (26) laid the foundation with a solid 91-run first wicket partnership, the quick departure of the Jamaican southpaw, followed by substitute captain Virat Kohli and Pathan made the Deccan Chargers fancy a surprise win though languishing at the bottom of the table.
With two wickets for 28, Amit Mishra was Deccan Chargers' most successful bowler, while Singh, Anand Rajan and Ashish Reddy shared one wicket each.
Earlier, put to bat first, Deccan Chargers hit an imposing target of 181 for just two wickets in the stipulated 20 overs, as Royal Challengers bowlers failed to contain their openers Daniel Harris and Shikhar Dhawan, who had put up 86-run partnership for the first wicket in 11.5 overs.
Making a sedate start, Harris (47 in 41 balls) and Dhawan (73 not out in 52 balls) steadied the innings with quick running between the wickets during the first six overs of power play and stepping up the score to make 50 in 44 balls.
Harris lofted four sixes and two fours while Dhawan remained unbeaten with 10 hits to the boundaries and one six.
Return of Sri Lankan legendary spinner Muthaiah Muralitharan in place of captain Daniel Vettori, who opted to sit out for the first time in this tournament, was greeted by the frenzied fans as he contained the Deccan Chargers, giving away only 18 runs in four overs though he was not lucky to get a wicket.
Attempt for a quick single ended the partnership with Harris getting run out by Kohil of through by Syed Mohammed.
New comer Prashanth Parameshwaran was the lone successful bowler to have caught and bold Cameron White for 45 in 24 balls with three sixes and two fours.
Deccan Chargers captain Kumara Sngakkara remained not out with six.