AB De Villiers RCB
RCB batsman AB De Villiers plays a shot to the onside against CSK in their IPL 2014 game, 18 MayRon Gaunt/IPL/SPORTZPICS

It was the pitch in Ranchi that took the spotlight after 40 attritional overs of IPL 2014 cricket, with the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsmen having just that drop more to eke out a narrow win over the Chennai Super Kings and with it keep their hopes of making the playoffs well and truly alive.

On a wicket that was slower than a snail, with plenty of turn to boot, CSK managed to put on 138 for four in their 20 overs, with Suresh Raina striking a breezy half-century.

The pitch only got slower in the second innings, the reason behind MS Dhoni's decision to bat first, but RCB, courtesy crucial knocks from Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and the peerless AB De Villiers, got over the line, with Yuvraj Singh, also coming to the fore right at the end, finishing the game off in the final over as the Bangalore side finished on 142 for five in 19.5 overs.

The win takes RCB to ten points from 11 matches, the same as the fourth-placed Kolkata Knight Riders, who play the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 8 pm game. SRH can make it a three-way tie with a victory over KKR in Hyderabad, which will certainly make that battle for the fourth and final playoff spot quite interesting. CSK remain on 16 points from 11 matches, in second spot behind the Kings XI Punjab.

In the chase, RCB also fell prey to the slow and top-turning pitch, with Chris Gayle struggling initially to find anything remotely resembling his mojo, while Parthiv Patel, after a nice couple of early strokes, was dismissed by R Ashwin, who thoroughly enjoyed himself on the pitch, turning the ball square at every opportunity.

Kohli, having an almost unimaginable dry spell with the bat, came in and settled things down with Gayle, as the two experienced RCB duo, in desperate need for some runs, went about slowly, but surely, hauling down the target.

It was not easy, it was hard work, with scoring runs on the you-can-have-a-cup-of-tea-before-the-ball-comes-to-you quite difficult, as CSK skipper Dhoni went for an all-out spin attack with Ashwin nearly unplayable in his first spell of three overs, where he conceded just three runs while also scalping Patel (10, 14b, 2x4).

However, Kohli and Gayle, knowing there was plenty of batting arsenal to come, persevered on the difficult wicket, allying for 61 from 64 deliveries to set the game up for the magic man De Villiers.

Kohli (27, 29b, 1x4, 1x6) fell in the first ball of the 15th over, stumped by Dhoni off Jadeja, leaving RCB needing 64 from the final 35 deliveries. Gayle reduced that equation considerably with a six and a four off Jadeja, who struggled to contain the left-hander with the ball coming in.

With De Villiers also turning on the style at the other end, it looked like RCB's game, only for Gayle (46, 50b, 3x4, 3x6) to fall to Ashwin, whose final over went for 14 runs, after conceding just three in his first three.

De Villiers (28, 14b, 1x4, 3x6), dropped early by Ashwin, brought the equation from 29 in 18 to 14 from 13, with David Hussey, given a second over, after a decent first, picking up the priceless wicket of the South African in the final delivery, after being carted for a four and a six.

The South African maestro, dropped by Ashwin early, a drop which probably cost CSK the match, had left Yuvraj Singh and the rest of the RCB batsmen to chase down just 14 runs from the final two overs, but a ripper of a penultimate over from Jadeja, which went for just four, meant Hussey had to keep RCB to nine runs or lower, with the Royal Challengers needing ten for victory.

Dhoni's decision to give part-timer Hussey, playing his first game in IPL 2014, did not work as Yuvraj took full toll to finish the game off with a six, two, a single and another boundary, this time from Abu Nechim as RCB edged home.

The first innings was attritional at best really, with only Suresh Raina looking remotely comfortable on the slow wicket.

For once the two CSK openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith did not get CSK off to a rollicking start, not so surprising considering the pitch just was not conducive for extravagant shot-making, the two batsmen's USP.

Both openers fell in the fifth over to Varun Aaron (3-0-29-2), with McCullum, first, finding I'm-always-there-where-a-catch-is-to-be-taken Mitchell Starc, before Smith top-edged a pull shot to AB never-drops-them De Villiers.

Raina and David Hussey, playing his first game after being called-in as a replacement for the injured Dwayne Bravo, set about repairing the early damage, with the left and right-hand combination putting on a crucial 75 in 47 balls.

That alliance opened up the possibility of CSK getting to 160, which would have been a match-winning score on the wicket, but once Hussey (25, 29b, 1x4, 1x6) holed out to that man Starc again in the deep off Muttiah Muralitharan (one for 29) in the 15th over, with CSK on 104, the home side's innings tailed-off.

Dhoni was unable to produce a finishing master class in front of his home crowd, with Gayle taking a nice catch at point to give the impressive Abu Nechim his only wicket of the innings. Nechim (4-0-18-1) and Starc were brilliant in the final overs, keeping the ball full and not letting the CSK batsmen, even the settled Raina (62, 48b, 6x4, 1x6), get anything resembling a boundary.

The Super Kings managed only 31 runs in the final five overs as all momentum was sapped out by the RCB bowlers and the can't-score-runs-easily-on-this pitch.