Royal Challengers Bangalore kept their playoff hopes alive by trumping Sunrisers Hyderabad by 14 runs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Thursday (May 17). The game was studded with many dazzling individual performances, but one moment which stole the show was AB de Villiers’s brilliance in the field to dismiss Alex Hales.
On the last ball of the eighth over, Hales lofted Moeen Ali towards the midwicket fence where de Villiers took an almost gravity-defying leap, changed direction mid-air, plucked the ball from beyond the boundary while airborne, and then landed inside the playing field – all in the blink of an eye.
Virat Kohli, the Bangalore captain, said his teammate and friend continued to leave him in awe. “That was Spiderman stuff. You don’t do that as normal human beings,” gushed Kohli after the match. “I thought it was going for a six, but he pulls it out, then the jump and then the balance. I mean he can do freakish things but I am used to it now. His shots still leave me in awe but his fielding I am pretty used to. That was fun to watch.”
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) May 17, 2018
Moeen was also left in awe and said only de Villiers could have pulled that catch off. “Obviously an unbelievable catch,” said Moeen. “One of the best I have ever seen. When he (Hales) hit it, I thought, six. But with AB you have always got a chance. What a grab! He is an amazing fielder, everybody knows that, and only he can do that.”
However, the man himself played it down, putting it down to luck in the end. “I made it look better than it actually was,” offered de Villiers, who was the Man of the Match for his innings of 69 off 39 and the gravity-defying catch. “I got into a bad position, the ball had a bit of a curve on it. The minute I took the jump, I realised it was a little bit outside my body. I just had to put that right hand out and luckily it stuck.”
Earlier, de Villiers along with Moeen led the charge with the bat to steer Bangalore towards a daunting total despite Rashid Khan’s 3 for 27. Talking about his blazing innings and his approach while bating, the South African said, “I look to put a bit of pressure on the bowlers. I am human after all. Either I am going to falter under pressure or they are. So, I always try to put them under pressure. If I get one or two away, then I can a bit of momentum going and then it becomes a bit easier from there.”
Bangalore have now won three games on the trot, and are on 12 points with one match in hand, against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday. A win there will give Bangalore a reasonable chance of making it to the playoffs, though net run-rates might still be involved.
“It would be so great to make the knockouts,” said de Villiers. “Hopefully we do get through. Lots has got to happen. First of all, the most important thing is, we’ve got to win the next game. Then it comes down to the run-rate but we’ve just got to win that game.”
The one thing which has stood out in the last three games is the fearless brand of cricket Bangalore have embraced. Kohli believed that his side’s performance had put fear in the mind of other teams. “Teams don’t want us to win and that’s a great position to be in,” said Kohli. “Looking at the strength of our side, teams want us to not sort of go ahead and we cherish that. We sense fear and then we pounce. That has been the case in the last three games and we would continue this body language for whatever games we play in the tournament.
“The last three games have been like this with our backs against the wall, making sort of a comeback. Now we head to Rajasthan with momentum on our side completely. The team is feeling great. Someone is stepping up every time and that is what you expect in a team sport. Tonight again AB and Moeen were outstanding with the bat. Colin (de Grandhomme) as well finished off really well. And then with the ball as well, guys kept chipping in.”
With 67 required from the last five overs, the Bangalore bowlers kept their calm and took the side to victory. Kohli lauded his bowlers’ efforts on a surface which didn’t have much to offer. “I have seen many of these games before,” he said. “Just had to stay calm at the end of it. After a point, you have to sit back and understand that the bowlers are in control of what they want to do. And then if executed, things go well. We have two games like this. The one against Mumbai was something similar. But the guys stood up in the end. The wicket was really good and in the second innings, there was a lot of dew. Hats off to the bowlers for maintaining their composure and getting us two points.”
Talking about the balance of the side, Kohli said, “We are pretty comfortable with this side. Moeen has come in and done a great job for us. Three games he has bowled really well and tonight his knock was outstanding. So hats off to him for grabbing the opportunity with both hands. He is providing us the balance with bat and bowl which we require… Colin as well chipping in with a few overs here and there and striking in the end. We are happy with the XI we are playing with and we would love to continue with the same wherever we go in the tournament.”