Australian imports Steve Smith and James Faulkner pounded 65 runs in just 17 balls to carry Rajasthan Royals to a five-wicket win against Royal Challengers Bangalore in a crucial IPL game on Sunday.
Smith (48 not out, 21b, 4×4, 4×6) and Faulkner (41 not out, 17b, 3×4, 3×6) came together in the 14th over with Rajasthan on 106 for five, and played some clever cricket to help their team overhaul RCB’s total of 190 for five with seven balls to spare.
In the process, Yuvraj Singh’s dream performance of 83 off 38 balls (7×4, 7×6) and 4 for 35 went in vain for RCB whose re-jigged line-up failed to deliver as they slid to their sixth defeat in nine matches while Rajasthan chalked up sixth win to consolidate their third place on the leaderboard.
The Smith-Faulkner partnership left RCB shell-shocked considering that a rollicking 132-run partnership between Yuvraj and AB de Villiers (58, 32b, 1×4, 5×6) had given them a seemingly winning total.
Contributing to RCB’s optimism was Yuvraj’s performance with the ball as he tore apart the Rajasthan middle-order, beginning with a double strike in his very first over and then picking up two more wickets to put the hosts on top.
However, Smith and Faulker turned the game around for Rajasthan who had started well with openers Ajinkya Rahane (24) and Karun Nair (56, 39b, 8×4) putting on 54 runs before Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed the former to set the stage for Yuvraj’s four-wicket haul.
Earlier, Yuvraj and de Villiers smashed 84 runs in the last five overs in the course of their century partnership to lift RCB’s sagging spirits.
Barring their association, there was little to enthuse about RCB’s innings that was otherwise in tatters after the cheap dismissals of skipper Virat Kohli (4) who had promoted himself to open with Chris Gayle (19) and Vijay Zol (16).
Both Yuvraj and de Villiers took their time to reconstruct the innings that at one juncture was 40 for three in ninth over. However, once they got into groove, there was no stopping either of them as runs flowed freely, especially in the end overs.
Yuvraj, under pressure after a string of failures, showed glimpses of his class while de Villiers was his usual busy self in scoring his fourth half-century in nine matches and his fifth 40-plus score.
The Rajasthan bowlers, who had begun well enough, later yielded to the brilliance of Yuvraj and de Villiers, both of whom were unstoppable until they perished attempting to further accelerate. By then, RCB had enough runs on the board to eye their fourth win in nine matches, but it was not to be their night.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 190 for 5 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 58, Yuvraj Singh 83, Kane Richardson 2 for 43) lost to Rajasthan Royals 191 for 5 in 18.5 overs (Karun Nair 56, Steve Smith 48 not out, David Faulkner 41 not out, Yuvraj Singh 4 for 35).