AB de Villiers single-handedly took Royal Challengers Bangalore to this year’s final. Chasing 159 Bangalore were looking down the barrel when they were tottering at 29 for 5. That situation soon worsened to 6-68. But with de Villiers at the crease there was still hope. The South African, rallied with tail to remain unbeaten on 79 from 45 balls to orchestrate a memorable chase.
He added 91 runs with Iqbal Abdulla for the seventh wicket to take RCB home. Talking about Abdulla, who scored 33, de Villiers said that the spinner was calmer than him in the pressure situation.
“To be very honest, I thought I’d have to say a lot to him (Abdulla) but he was probably calmer than me. When he walked up, you could see that he has done this before,” AB de Villiers described his batting partner in the post-match press conference.
“He had a calm head on his shoulders and straight away understood what I was trying to tell him. I didn’t have to talk to him after that. You can just see it when you have a connection with someone his eyes were open and he was there to win the game for the team and cross the line with me. A lot of credit should go to him, fantastic partnership,” de Villiers quipped.
The pitch was two paced and batsmen were struggling to time the ball initially but after settling down stroke-making became easy. Commenting on the pitch, de Villiers said:”It was a funny kind of wicket. I thought anything more than 160 and we’d be in trouble. It didn’t seem like a wicket where you can just go and score. I always felt we needed a foundation in the first six but we didn’t get that.”
Gujarat Lions bowler Dhawal Kulkarni was the destructor-in-chief as he ran through RCB’s top order. It took Kulkarni only two balls to knock over in-form Virat Kohli. In his next over, he comprehensively bowled Chris Gayle and then got KL Rahul to edge his out-swinger to slip, first ball. Kulkarni had a fourth wicket when Sachin Baby spooned an easy catch to cover. Bowling his full quota out to open the innings, Kulkarni finished with new career-best 4-14.
“Kulkarni bowled that fantastic spell, a lot of credit should go to him. He basically had the game in the pocket but like Zaheer Khan always tells me, it’s a funny old game and you’re never out of it. We had a lot of belief. They almost won the game in the powerplay but we kept fighting,” the South African swashbuckler added.
de Villiers will be playing his first IPL final and he said that it would be a very special moment for him.
“Tonight was a special for me. To cross the line for the team, to have an impact on winning the game that’s why I play this game. Honestly, I can’t explain what this final means to me. I haven’t played in a lot of finals throughout my career.
“I’ve been with RCB for six years [five]. We haven’t seen a lot of finals. Lot of people say we were under-performing. But it’s moments like this that really makes it worthwhile. We’ve had a great team spirit for quite a few years. We’ve played some really good cricket. Never got to really enjoy a final and hopefully we’ll win it. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It is a great honour and privilege to be in a final with this great franchise, which has looked after me and the team so well over the years,” he concluded.