Just when Yuzvendra Chahal seemed to have broken the back of his former franchise, Dinesh Karthik produced a memorable blitzkrieg to inflict a stunning four-wicket defeat on Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
Chasing Royals’ 169 for three, Royal Challengers Bangalore was staring at defeat after losing the top five wickets in the space of 32 runs. What followed was a Karthik-induced 67-run stand off 32 balls with left-handed Shahbaz Ahmed and turned the match on its head.
Karthik’s unbeaten 23-ball 44 and Shahbaz’s 26-ball 45 set up Royal Challengers’ second straight win and Royals’ first loss in three games. Between them, these batters struck four sixes and 11 fours to leave Royals bleeding.
Coming in at 87 for five, after Navdeep Saini took a stunning catch to send back Sherfane Rutherford, Karthik chose Ravichandran Ashwin for special treatment, hitting him for three fours and a six in a 21-run over and never looked back.
From the other end, Shahbaz’s second six, off Saini, made it 45 runs needed from 30 balls. Shahbaz then smashed a four and a six off Prasidh Krishna for a 13-run over.
After Chahal’s quiet over, Shahbaz found the straight boundary and a six to long-on but was bowled by Trent Boult, in an over that produced 13 runs.
With Harshal Patel for company and 15 runs needed off 12 deliveries, Karthik struck two fours in succession off Prasidh to leave just three runs for the final over. Patel’s six sealed the deal.
Earlier, Chahal provided the much-needed breakthrough by sending back Faf du Plessis, then ran Virat Kohli out before beating the defensive bat of David Willey next ball to castle the left-hander. This triggered Royal Challengers’ fall from 55 without loss to 62 for four. The chase of 170 looked uphill at this stage until Karthik and Shahbaz got into the act.
If the target became a stiff one, Jos Buttler’s late flourish had much to do with it. On a dry pitch that became increasingly slower in the second half of the innings, Buttler hit a 47-ball unbeaten 70 with six sixes. This was also the highest IPL score without a four.
After Royals were asked to bat for the third successive time, Buttler made Royal Challengers pay for two dropped catches in one over. Two successive sixes by Buttler in the 19th over, bowled by Mohammed Siraj, and two more off Akash Deep in the final over saw an addition of 42 runs in the last two overs. But eventually, it did not prove enough.