Asked to bat, Parthiv Patel (24-ball 43) gave Bangalore a hasty start before a mini-collapse pegged them back. That's when de Villiers (44-ball 82*) and Marcus Stoinis (34-ball 46*) added 121 runs for the fifth wicket to power Bangalore to 202 for 4 in 20 overs. The surface was a belter and Punjab's top-five batsmen got solid starts but not one of them could convert it into a match-winning score as they were restricted to 185 for 7.
Parthiv and Virat Kohli were off to a breezy start after Hardus Viljoen dropped a sitter at mid-wicket to give Bangalore skipper a reprieve. The two played some quality shots and added 35 runs in three overs before Mohammed Shami had Kohli caught at extra cover for 13.
Parthiv, however, did not bow down and kept the attack going, collecting 32 runs in the last two overs of the powerplay. The wicketkeeper-batsman first smoked Ankit Rajpoot for a maximum before smashing three fours and a six in the next over to rip Shami apart. He was looking in sublime form but just like he has done it countless times in the past, Parthiv once again threw away his wicket after the powerplay, becoming M Ashwin's only victim.
Following Parthiv's departure, the two Ashwins and Viljoen were able to choke Bangalore batsmen who only managed 29 runs in the next seven overs. Punjab skipper R Ashwin was brilliant and knocked over Moeen Ali (4) in his four-over spell in which he only conceded 15 runs.
Both de Villiers and Stonis took their time before the latter tonked M Ashwin down the ground to break the shackles. The carnage never stopped from there on as de Villiers turned on the 360-mode and blasted everyone around the park. The former South Africa player was on 25 in as many deliveries at one stage and ended up hitting 57 runs in his next 19 balls.
16, 21 and 27 - this is what de Villiers and Stonis accumulated in the last three overs. The two were helped by Viljoen and Shami who were simply horrible during this period. The two didn't land a single yorker and kept bowling full tosses, half volleys and length balls to make things easier for the two batsmen. While de Villiers was at his very best in over No. 18 and 19, Stoinis finally transformed into "Hulk" in the last over.
After de Villiers hammered Shami for three consecutive sixes, Stoinis, who was struggling with his timing till then, took Viljoen to cleaners to end with a strike rate of 135.29. The duo ensured that Bangalore got past the 200-run mark, which was still just above par on a batting-friendly surface.
Punjab needed a rapid start from their openers and that's exactly what they got from Chris Gayle (10-ball 23) and KL Rahul. The big-hitter from Jamaica came out with a go-after-everything approach and hit four fours and a six in nine deliveries. Just when it looked like he would take the game away from the home side, Gayle mistimed a heave that landed straight into the hands of the long-on fielder.
Rahul and Mayank Agarwal then stitched together a 59-run stand and made sure that Punjab were never behind the required run-rate. The two didn't allow Yuzvendra Chahal to settle in and hit him for 27 runs in his first two overs. The dangerous-looking partnership was broken by Stonis when he sent back Agarwal for 21-ball 35, while Moeen had Rahul caught for 27-ball 42 in his very first delivery.
With 86 needed in 7 overs, Pooran went berserk, hitting Washington Sundar for three sixes in an over before muscling Navdeep Saini and Moeen for 20 and 13 runs respectively to turn the tide in Punjab's favour. Stoinis then dropped a simple chance at long-on in the 18th over in which Umesh Yadav (3 for 36) conceded only six runs.
David Miller never looked comfortable and was dismissed for 25-ball 24. Bangalore bowlers have been known for being horrible in death overs but such wasn't the case tonight. Saini first sent back Bangalore's only threat Pooran for 28-ball 46 before Umesh scalped two more in the final over to deliver the knockout blow.
First Published: April 25, 2019, 8:35 AM IST