New Delhi, Apr 26 : Virat Kohli scored a breezy half century to help Royal Challengers Bangalore eke out a narrow three-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils in an Indian Premier League match here today.
Kohli was in a murderous mood as he made a crucial 56 and hit as many as eight boundaries and two sixes during his 38-ball stay at the crease.
Apart from Kohli, last match centurion Chris Gayle (26 off 14) played a good hand up the order while captain Daniel Vettori (18 not out), Saurabh Tiwary (18) and Syed Mohammad (13 not out) made useful contributions towards the end to see Bangalore overwhelm the 161-run target with three balls to spare.
Morne Morkel starred with the ball for Daredevils with figures of three for 25.
Earlier sent into bat, James Hopes scored a valuable half-century to enable Daredevils post a challenging 160 for six at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground.
Hopes made vital 54 runs off 43 balls during which he hit seven fours to steer the Delhi innings after captain Virender Sehwag (25 off 18) and David Warner (7) fell early.
Y Venugopal Rao (24 off 21), Naman Ojha (16) and Irfan Pathan (13 not out) also made useful contributions with the bat to guide Delhi to a decent score.
Young right-arm pacer Abhimanyu Mithun was the pick of the bowlers for the Bangalore outfit with figures of two for 37 while Zaheer Khan (1/27), Sreenath Arvind (1/30) and skipper Daniel Vettori (1/25) scalped wicket apiece.
The start to Bangalore's run chase was far from rosy as they lost Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second ball of the innings when he top-edged one to wicket-keeper Naman Ojha off Ashok Dinda.
But new man in Virat Kohli seemed in ominous form as he opened his scoring with back-to-back fours off Dinda.
Irfan Pathan then had to face the brunt of Kohli as he struck the left-arm pacer for as many as four boundaries in the next over to give impeteus to Bangalore innings.
Last match centurion Chris Gayle joined the party soon, clobbering Morne Morkel for a four and six and the hit Dinda for two fours to bring up Bangalore's fifty in the fifth over.
The duo raised 82 runs off just 43 deliveries before Gayle was caught at the deep square leg boundary by Venugopal Rao off Hopes to draw curtains on the dangerous looking second wicket partnership.
Then two quick in a span of three balls turned the match upside down as Delhi gained the upper hand with Bangalore tottering at 96 for four in 9.1 overs.
In search of a double, AB de Villiers fell to a David Warner's brilliance as he was caught short at the bowlers end with a direct hit from the Australian and then a ball later Morkel induced an inside edge on to the stumps from in-form Kohli to send the crowd into frenzied celebrations.
Cheteshwar Pujara (7) did very little to help his own and his side's cause, handing a long hop to Warner off Yogesh Nagar.
Tiwary (18) and Vettori raised some hopes for Bangalore with a 32-run sixth wicket stand but it soon diminished when Tiwary and Abhimanyu Mithun fell in the 17th over to Morkel with the visitors still needing 22 runs off three overs.
But Syed Mohammad was in no mood to give up without a fight as he hit two classy fours off Umesh Yadav to bring down the equation to 12 off 12 balls.
From there on, both Vettori and Mohammad played some sensible cricket to guide Bagalore past the 161-run target.
Earlier, sent into bat, Daredevils were off to a shaky start as they lost both their openers inside the first seven overs.
David Warner was the first to depart, cleaned by Zaheer Khan with an inswinging delivery as he went for a booming drive.
Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag too failed to make much of an impact in front of home crowds as he was run out in pursuit of a tight single with the scoreboard reading 43 for two.
Australian James Hopes, however, was in a attacking moodas he hit Chris Gayle for back-to-back boundaries in his first over.
But Daredevils' problems were further compounded when Abhimanyu Mithun disturbed Mathew Wade's timbers.
But then James Hopes and Y Venugopal Rao joined hands and not only steadied the Delhi innings but also upped the tempo with some lusty shots.
The duo took the attack to the opposition and sent the bad deliveries to its logical conclusion to bring up Delhi's 100 in 13.2 overs.
But just when it was time to accelerate Venugopal Rao departe, bowled by Vettori in the first delivery of the 16th over.
The pair put on 47 runs off 38 balls for the fourth wicket before Venugopal Rao was bowled by Vettori in the 16th over as he went for a rash shot.
New man in Naman Ojha, however, made his intentions clear from the onset as after playing three dot balls, he clobbered Vettori over the long-off boundary for the second six of Delhi innings.
Ojha then struck Zaheer over the long on boundary in the next over to notch up his second six of the innings. But after doing all the hardwork, Hopes fell as he edged one to AB de Villiers behind the stumps of Mithun.
Pathan then used his long handle to great affect, hitting two lusty sixes to take Delhi beyond the 150-run mark. PTI