Kohli, De Villiers half-centuries shrink DD

Virat Kohli’s 40-ball 70 set the stage for AB de Villiers, who remained unbeaten on 72 off 37 balls to take RCB home by five wickets.

AB de Villiers (left) raises his bat, while captain Virat Kohli embraces him after his half-century against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi on Saturday.   -  AP

 

Delhi Daredevils' bowling has been its bane this entire season. On Saturday, the host failed to defend a competitive total yet again, going down by five wickets to Royal Challengers Bangalore with an over to spare to hand the visitor a lifeline in the race to play-offs.

Chasing 182, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers shrunk DD’s hopes by stitching a 118-run partnership for the third wicket in just 64 balls. RCB's batting has been patchy at best with Kohli scoring the bulk of its runs but it was only a matter of time they came good together. The duo found the perfect stage to do it, replicating the Kane Williamson-Shikhar Dhawan blitz two days ago.

 

Kohli (70) smashed the bowlers all around and De Villiers (72 not out), struggling for form, matched him in both shot-making and scoring to stay till the end. He stuck the winning runs, a massive six over long-off.

Trent Boult, the only consistent DD bowler, did pick up two wickets but there was little support at the other end.

Earlier, DD gave youngsters Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane and Junior Dala their IPL debuts with the 17-year old Sharma, an under-19 World Cupper, proving he had both the temperament and the skills on his IPL and T20 debut. His unbeaten 19-ball 46 included some of the cleanest hits this season.

READ: Abhishek Sharma, 17, turns heads on IPL debut

If the first ball he faced from Mohammad Siraj was sent racing down the ground to long-off to make his intentions clear, Tim Southee saw the ball flying over his head into the stands with the straightest of bats. He went for 22 in the 17th over, the most expensive of the innings.

Sharma was also lucky after being dropped by Siraj at third man before he could launch into his stride but once he did, he proved why the current junior lot is rated so highly. His shots were copybook but with enough power to clear the field and precise timing to find the gaps. His Nepal counterpart Sandeep Lamichhane became not just the first Nepalese to play here, but also take a wicket.

Sharma built on the foundation set by Rishabh Pant, who scored his fifth IPL half-century this season, and justified his promotion ahead of Harshal Patel. It didn't look like that, though, when Yuzvendra Chahal struck twice in consecutive overs, cleaning up Prithvi Shaw and Jason Roy with the score 21 for two. A struggling Shreyas Iyer did not help matters but given DD's bowling, any target would not have been enough.

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