Uthappa gets going Boundaries dry up
Robin Uthappa has always been at his best as a top-order batsman. Having tried four opening combinations already this season, Rajasthan now went to Uthappa, in his preferred position, alongside Ben Stokes.
Having struggled for fluency all season, Uthappa found it, making full use of the powerplay field restrictions. He picked up four fours in the third over of the match when Washington Sundar bowled. In the next over, he hit the medium-fast Isuru Udana for a four and a six over mid-on - another favourite zone - and
the Royals were up and running.
Stokes wasn't quite as fluent, and he fell in the last over of the powerplay, off a slower bouncer from Chris Morris. Uthappa was still going strong, though, hitting Navdeep Saini for a pair of fours in the seventh over, and when Sanju Samson greeted Yuzvendra Chahal's introduction with a massive six over midwicket - which took the score to 68 for one in 8.1 overs.
Chahal then took out both
Uthappa and Samson in that same over, trusting in his flight, a wider line, and the long boundaries in Dubai.
Jos Buttler found the boundary once each in the next two overs, but Chahal, Sundar and Navdeep Saini combined to give away just 17 runs from overs 12 to 14. Steven Smith provided the boost to Rajasthan, to pick up a pair of fours off Udana and a six and another four - either side of Buttler's dismissal - off Morris.
He picked up three more fours in the 18th over, off Chahal, two via the reverse-sweep. With Udana bowling an expensive 19th - Rahul Tewatia got stuck into him - and Morris a tight 20th, the Royals posted 177 for six.
Through most of their chase, the Royal Challengers simply got stuck. A feature of their innings was an inability to hit fours - they only hit five in all, compared to the Royals' 17.
Devdutt Padikkal struggled to 35 off 37 balls, with only two boundaries, while Kohli struggled for fluency but muscled a pair of sixes in scoring 43 off 32. By the time de Villiers came to the crease, the Royal Challengers' required rate had climbed from 8.9 at the start of their chase to 10.9 at the 13-over mark.
De Villiers takes over
De Villiers' arrival didn't change the game immediately. The Royal Challengers didn't hit a boundary in his first 15 balls at the crease, partly because Gurkeerat was on strike for six of them, and partly because Kartik Tyagi, Shreyas Gopal - who had dismissed de Villiers four times in five meetings before today - and Archer weren't that easy to get away.
Then Archer bowled a rare short ball that didn't get up to an uncomfortable height, and de Villiers was away with a six swatted over the square leg boundary.
Even that didn't fully open the floodgates, with Unadkat and Tyagi managing to keep Gurkeerat on strike for seven balls in the 17th and 18th overs.
This left the Royal Challengers needing 35 off 12. Smith, the Royals captain, went with Unadkat, reckoning that his slower balls would be harder to muscle over the leg side with the longer boundary in that direction.
De Villiers, who sets up better at the crease against the slower ball than anyone else on the planet, went 6, 6, 6 - over the longer boundary each time - off the first three balls of Unadkat's over.
Another six over midwicket, off Archer in the final over, completed the job and moved de Villiers past fifty for the fourth time in the season.