AB de Villiers smashed a blistering unbeaten half century as Royal Challengers Bangalore thumped debutantes Kochi Tuskers Kerala by six wickets in their Indian Premier League here on Saturday.
Coming in at 48 for two in the sixth over, South African de Villiers (54 not out) anchored the RCB innings with a strokeful knock which came from 40 balls as the visitors chased down 162 with eight balls to spare on a batting track.
Needing 33 from the last three overs, de Villiers smashed three sixes in the 18th over to take 20 runs from medium pacer Raiphi Gomez to reach his fifty and that changed the complexion of the game.
Gomez was surprisingly introduced for the first time by KTK captain Mahela Jayawardene in the match at that crucial stage.
Asad Pathan then smashed three fours off Vinay Kumar in the penultimate over, including the winning runs, as RCB reached 162 for four in 18.4 overs to stun the cheering KTK supporters who were experiencing their first IPL match at home.
Chasing 162 for a win in their opening match, RCB made a shaky start with their key opener Tillakaratne Dilshan out for just one in the second over.
Dilshan got a leading edge while trying to whip an outswinger off Sreesanth and Brendon McCullum dived forward to take a low and sharp catch.
The early dismissal, however, did not deter RCB batsmen from playing big shots as Virat Kohli and the other opener Mayank Agarwal scored at a brisk pace.
The duo took 13 runs from the fifth over bowled by Ravindra Jadeja with Agarwal hitting the bowler for a six and Kohli a four.
Just as Kohli (23 off 18 balls), one of India’s World Cup heroes, looked like settling in for a big knock, he was dismissed in the sixth over LBW as Vinay Kumar skidded the ball into the right-hander from outside off.
Agarwal greeted the just retired Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan for a six in the off-spinner’s first ball and AB de Villiers smote Sreesanth for a huge six to take 15 runs of the paceman from the ninth over to keep RCB on track.
RCB found themselves at a spot of bother as Agarwal fell in the last ball of the 10th over off Jadeja, holing out to Vinay Kumar at long off to leave his side at 86 for three.
Saurabh Tiwary contributed a useful 24—ball 26 before being out in the 18th over before de Villiers and Pathan took RCB home.