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NEW DELHI: Playing on his homeground proved lucky for Virat Kohli as he returned Royal Challengers Bangalore to winnings ways at the Kotla on Friday. Kohli’s breathtaking 99 set up the visitors’ thrilling four-run triumph over luckless Delhi Daredevils, but the Bangalore skipper was reprieved twice during the course of his knock - chances that he made the most of.
The visitors set Delhi an imposing 184-run target batting first, thanks to the inconceivable 77 that Kohli and AB de Villiers (32*) smote in their last four overs. The onslaught proved decisive as Delhi’s batsmen succumbed trying to keep pace with the steadily ascending asking rate, finishing on 179/7 as Jayadev Unadkat picked up 5/25.
Delhi needed 51 to win off the last three overs and 19 off the last over. Although Irfan Pathan and Morne Morkel blasted 44 in 20 balls to raise visions on an improbable victory, Unadkat castled Morkel for his fifth wicket in the last over, as his team fell short by just four runs.
After Mahela Jayawardene (19) and Virender Sehwag (18) were dismissed by the left-arm paceman within the Powerplay, Ben Rohrer and Unmukt Chand kept their team in the hunt. The writing was on the wall when Rohrer became the nth played-on victim of the night, chopping Vinay Kumar on to the woodwork.
Unmukt then became Unadkat's third victim as Delhi breathed their last in the contest, with batsman after batsman holing out to long-on. Pathan's assault on Rampaul did revive interest in the contest, but Bangalore prevailed in the end, the win catapulting them back into the rosy echleons of the points table, with a play-offs berth a distinct possible at 18 points.
Kohli made the most of playing in his hometown. The Delhiite was caught off a Morkel no-ball and dropped by Sehwag off Siddharth Kaul before he had reached double figures. His team too looked nowhere on track for a huge total as they battled through the Powerplay, losing Chris Gayle and the classy Cheteshwar Pujara for not much.
Gayle was bowled off an inside-edge off Irfan Pathan, while Pujara, who sought to play the aggressor’s role with a slew of boundaries, was cleaned up by Kaul going for the big hit. Forty for two after six was hardly an ideal platform, but Kohli and Moises Henriques brought the team some much-needed break from losing wickets.
Bangalore were 106/3 after 16 overs when Kohli and de Villiers reached the violent end of their 94-run union. Morkel was taken for 17 and Umesh Yadav, often the posterboy for neo-India’s pace attack, was creamed for 46 in his last two overs.
Kohli scored 52 off his last 15 balls and was on the brink of a scarcely-believable hundred when he was run-out at the end of the innings. It was a period that cost Delhi the match, the result ending their last-ditch efforts of staying in contention for the last-four.