Jacques Kallis delivered when it mattered most as the South African cracked an unbeaten half-century to guide Royal Challengers Bangalore to a thumping seven-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils and keep their semi-final hopes alive in the IPL here on Tuesday.
Kallis (58 not out) carried his bat through the innings hitting two fours and two sixes from 56 balls to steer Bangalore to their seventh win from 13 matches after Delhi elected to bat and posted 134 for seven.
Kallis first shared a 70-run stand from 69 balls for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid (34-ball 38) and then combined with Ross Taylor (12-ball 25) for 29 runs from just 14 balls for the third wicket to take Bangalore home with one over to spare.
Bangalore, now at fourth place in IPL table with 14 points to their kitty, will though need to win their last match against Deccan Chargers at Centurion on May 21 to make sure that they make it to the semi-finals.
Chasing 135 for a win on a slow Wanderers pitch, Bangalore batsmen, except for Taylor, grafted for runs for most part of the match.
Robin Uthappa (1) continued his poor form but the other opener Kallis and one down Dravid stabilised the Bangalore innings.
The two experienced duo shunned extravagance and runs came in singles with boundaries few and far between though Kallis lifted an Aavishkar Salvi delivery for a huge six in the fourth over.
From 19 for one at the end of fifth over, Kallis and Dravid took Bangalore to 54 for one at the strategy break before the former India captain fell, caught and bowled by debutant Yogesh Nagar.
In-form Taylor, as soon as he came out, punished Salvi for a four and a six off consecutive balls to show his aggressive intent while Kallis dropped anchor only to open up towards the close.
Next over, Taylor eased the pressure further by smashing two sixes off the first two balls of Yogesh but he paid the price of being too adventurous.
The New Zealander, whose cameo brought down the asking rate, tried another six off the third ball of Yogesh to hole out to Daniel Vettori near the boundary.
Bangalore needed 33 from the last five overs, but they finished off the match in four.
For Delhi, Yogesh Nagar returned with two for 20 while Ashish Nehra took one wicket.
Earlier, Bangalore bowlers were spot on in their line and length and fielders backed them with some good work to restrict Delhi to 134 for seven.
Dinesh Karthik top-scored with a 29-ball 31 while AB de Villiers and Gautam Gambhir contributed 28 and 27 respectively.
Praveen Kumar returned with figures of 3/30 from his four overs while captain Anil Kumble chipped in with two wickets.
Delhi were in for a now familiar top order failure as they were down two wickets with just one run on the board in the first over with captain Virender Sehwag and Mithun Manhas falling to Praveen both out for a duck.
Sehwag, who has aggregated 109 from his nine innings so far, drove straight to Ross Taylor in third ball of innings. Two balls later, Manhas failed to connect Praveen’s bouncer which kissed his gloves for Kallis to take a good catch.
Gambhir was in good touch and looked like on course for a big score before he fell for 27 to a bad shot off Kallis at the last ball of the sixth over.
The Delhi opener, who hit a huge six off Praveen and two fours off Balachandra Akhil, holed out to Taylor at cover point while trying to upper-cut a short and wide delivery to leave his side in trouble at 37 for three.
de Villiers (28), who have been in tremendous form, failed to wriggle out Delhi from trouble for once, with van der Merwe rattling his off stump just after strategy break.
Kumble then joined the party cleaning up Andrew McDonald (3) with a faster delivery that went through the Australian’s defence and from 68 for three at the strategy break, Delhi were 70 for five.
Yogesh Nagar contributed a useful 20 before becoming Kumble’s second victim but after Karthik was out in the 18th over, Delhi could not add much to their total.