Dilshan’s 71 had put Royal Challengers on track in a big chase but his wicket, in the 16th over, was one of three in quick succession – a stutter that helped Chargers sneak ahead. But Mayank Agarwal showed plenty of fight, thrashing Veer Pratap Singh and Ashish Reddy, both medium-pacers, for sixes to keep his team in the hunt. De Villiers’ subsequent onslaught snatched the game away from Chargers.
The visitors brought back Steyn in the 18th over, with 39 needed, and he erred by dropping short first up, to be dispatched for six over deep midwicket. A slower one was slogged past wide long-on, and an attempt at a yorker went awry as it served up as a full length ball that de Villiers hammered over extra cover for a flat six by making room. If brute power lay behind those shots, the icing was the scoop past short fine. Twenty-three came off that over. With 16 still needed off two overs, five balls was all it took to finish things off. Anand Rajan was thrashed over extra cover and down the ground, before being launched over the deep-midwicket boundary. J Syed Mohammad was given the strike to score the winning runs, and he didn’t waste the chance. It was the only ball he faced in a stand worth 42, off 11 balls.
The platform for a successful chase was laid by Dilshan, who was by far the more dominant opening partner and made up for Chris Gayle’s subdued stay at the other end. He played a busy innings, cut the ball well, used the scoop, swept frequently and promptly dealt with long hops. He charged out to Veer Pratap to smash him for six over extra cover and a swept four off Reddy underlined his confidence. The stand grew more threatening for Chargers when Gayle began to open up, swinging Amit Mishra and Rajan for sixes, but his fall in the 11th over triggered a slide.
Mishra flighted the ball generously and got what he planned for, thanks to Steyn’s expert catching in the deep that accounted for captain Virat Kohli and Asad Pathan. When Dilshan was bowled, 65 were needed off 28 and Chargers could be spared to think they were in the ascendancy. De Villiers had other ideas, and inflicted a brutal punishment that scarred them further in their disappointing campaign, not allowing them a moment of security in a rarely-reached position of control.
That performance consigned Shikhar Dhawan‘s third half-century this IPL, opener Daniel Harris’ impressive contribution at the top and Cameron White’s powerful cameo at the end of the innings – each playing an important role in taking Chargers to 181 – to a passing mention in Royal Challengers’ outstanding comeback.