The Royal Challengers Bangalore are two wins away from a maiden IPL title, and if they continue to play anything like they did on Wednesday in the IPL 2015 Eliminator against the Rajasthan Royals, they just might lift that glinting gold trophy on Sunday at the Eden Gardens.
AB De Villiers (66, 38b, 4x4, 4x6) and Mandeep Singh (54 n.o., 34b, 7x4, 2x6) put on a partnership-and-a-half to take the game away from the Royals, who just could not get up from that big blow, putting on a limper-than-limp chase to succumb to a massive 71-run defeat.
Deciding to bat first after winning the toss, it all looked like going pear-shaped for RCB as Chris Gayle (27, 26, 4x4, 1x6) and Virat Kohli (12, 18b) fell without making enough of an impression, both of them to Dhawal Kulkarni.
RCB were stumbling and fumbling on their way to a below par total at the halfway mark, with the score reading 60/2 in 10 overs. But then, Mandeep decided to take charge, and soon enough De Villiers joined him, and just like that it was bye, bye birdie for that white ball as it kept flying to and past the ropes.
A total of 120 runs were scored in the final 10 overs, with 86 of them coming off the final 36 balls, as RCB zoomed to 180/4 in 20 overs.
The chase was always going to be a difficult one, considering there was plenty of grass on a two-paced wicket and also that this was a knockout, lose-and-you-go-home game, and so it proved to be as the Royals completely fell apart.
Shane Watson was going to be the key after his brilliant hundred against KKR, but hopes of another brilliant knock from the Aussie fell flat in the second over as Sreenath Aravind, returning from a finger injury, induced an outside edge.
Sanju Samson did the same off Harshal Patel soon after, leaving it all for Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith to do. Do it they could not as Smith fell looking for a big shot, with Rahane (42, 39b, 4x4) then getting stuck and eventually falling as the pressure mounted.
Soon enough the cookie started to crumble and RCB bowled the Royals out for 109 in 19 overs to pick up a huge win.
It is now a Qualifier 2 (or a semifinal) against CSK in Ranchi on Friday, with the winner of that match set to face Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2015 final on Sunday.