With 54 required off 24 deliveries on a slowish Dubai track, one would normally pick the team defending the total, here Rajasthan Royals. But not when you have an in-form AB de Villiers at the crease. Returning back to his old spot, from where he had fired an unbeaten 73 off 33 earlier this week, veteran South Africa showed the muggles his wizardry once again, smashing 41 off 11 balls in the final four overs to steer Royal Challengers Bangalore to a seven-wicket win against the Royals.
The equation of 35 needed from 12 was clearly not in favour of RCB, espcially with Gurkeerat Mann struggling at the crease, hogging up valuable dot balls. But all De Villiers required was three magical strikes to flip the equation as he struck three consecutve sixes off Jaydev Unadkat in the 19th over, who failed to withstand the greatness of AB's magic.
They were murmurs from the commentary box about Steve Smith's decision to go with Unadkat in the 19th over instead of Jofra Archer. But could Unadkat manage to save 18-20 runs against such an in-form big hitter? And RCB skipper Virat Kohli puts it finely for all of AB's fans - "It doesn't matter who the bowler is, he does what he does."
RCB however had a promising start before Aaron Finch's dismissal slowed down the proceedings for Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal who looked to struggle on the slowish Dubai track, conceding 10 dot balls and scoring just two sixes between overs 7 and 13 which ended with the dismissal of the left-hander. And then there was a bit a Rahul Tewatia magic in the deep that ended Kohli's innings at 43 off 32.
Earlier, captain Steve Smith led from the front with a counterattacking 36-ball 57 and guided Rajasthan Royals to 177 for six against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Smith struck six fours and one maximum before Chris Morris bowled a brilliant final over, conceding only four runs while taking two wickets to check RR from going past 180.
Fast-medium bowler Morris finished with excellent figures of 4/26 in four overs.
Batting first, Rajasthan Royals were off to a brisk start as opener Robin Uthappa (41 off 22 ball) launched into the RCB attack with a flurry of fours and a six.
Back in his favoured position alongside Ben Stokes after another change in the combination, Uthappa saw his team play two quiet overs before smashing Washington Sundar for four boundaries in the innings' third over.
Isuru Udana was pulled and then lofted over long-on by Uthappa for the day's first maximum as RR raced to 38 for no loss in four overs.
Morris gave RCB their first breakthrough when he had the subdued Stokes caught down the leg side.
Uthappa scored two more boundaries, off pacer Navdeep Saini, before his slow sweep went into the hands of the deep mid-wicket fielder off the bowling of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sanju Samson got going with a six that landed into the second tier of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. But he also fell to Chahal, taken at long-off by Morris as RR slipped to 69 for three after a good start.
On the lookout for quick runs, Smith found an ally in Jos Buttler and the two added 55 runs while steadying the ship.
Buttler fell for a 24-ball 25, but Smith continued to anchor the RR innings.
Chahal, meanwhile, bowled two front foot no balls which were struck for boundaries by Smith, giving his team 10 runs and two additional deliveries.
After RR scored 19 runs in the long 18th over bowled by Chahal, Rahul Tewatia hit Udana for a six and four to collect 15 from the penultimate over.
(with PTI inputs)