The fight for the third and fourth spots in the table has only got stiffer. Royal Challengers Bangalore inflicted a five-wicket defeat on Chennai Super Kings to move to 10 points with three matches remaining in the league.
What made the victory sweeter was that it came in CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's home ground in Ranchi. RCB, though struggling initially, counted on a late assault from AB de Villiers to chase down a target of 139 in the final over.
AB played a 14-ball 28 after RCB, who restricted CSK on a tricky JSCA Stadium pitch to 138/4, won in the penultimate delivery of the match.
On a surface, which AB later admitted was one of the toughest he has played on, RCB found the going tough with the CSK slow bowlers keeping their top order on a tight leash. Bangalore were 45 for the loss of Parthiv Patel in their first 10 overs, needing 94 from the last 10.
But RCB had the batsmen to do the job. Chris Gayle and captain Virat Kohli scored 46 and 27, respectively. Their 61-run stand for the second wicket, though coming in more than 10 overs, set the platform for AB to later come and unleash a flurry of strokes.
Barring Mohit Sharma, who sent down two overs, Dhoni operated with only slower bowlers – five of them including the Australian David Hussey, who came in as a replacement for the injured Dwayne Bravo.
While the regular spinners – R Ashwin (2/16), Suresh Raina (0/20), Ravindra Jadeja (0/31) and Samuel Badree (0/15) – were tidy, Hussey had to face the wrath of AB in the end overs. The Australian off-spinner went for 38 runs but took two wickets.
CSK fancied their chances till the 17th over when 29 were needed off 18 deliveries. AB picked up a six and a four off the first two deliveries off Hussey before being out in the final delivery to a catch at deep mid-wicket. When 14 were needed off the last two overs, Jadeja bowled a tidy penultimate over in which only four were scored, taking the tie to the exciting final over.
Hussey bowled the last over, off which 10 were needed. Yuvraj Singh smashed a six off the first ball. A two and a single were taken off the next two deliveries before Sachin Rana was out brilliantly by Brendon McCullum at short mid-wicket. With one needed off the last two deliveries, Abu Nechim smashed the bowler to long on to seal the issue.