Yuvraj Singh blasted an unbeaten 68 off just 29 balls in a stunning six-hitting exhibition to power Royal Challengers Bangalore to a 16-run victory over Delhi Daredevils, who could score only 170 for 7 in reply at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Tuesday.
Yuvraj, who had scored a brilliant 83 of just 38 balls against Rajasthan Royals in his side's last game, set the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on fire as he hammered nine sixes and a four to single-handedly take his side to a formidable 186 for 4 after being put in to bat.
Chasing a stiff 187, Delhi fell 16 runs short to lose the match that started 70 minutes behind schedule due to rain.
With this win, Bangalore jumped to sixth spot with eight points from 10 matches while Delhi languished at the bottom with four points from 10 matches. Delhi, who are virtually out of the tournament, face an uphill task now to qualify for the play-offs.
Bangalore were 94 for 3 in 13th over when Yuvraj came out to bat. The left-handed batsman struck sixes almost at will towards the end of the innings after a slow start by his side. This was his third fifty-plus knock in 10 matches in IPL-7 as he signalled return to his vintage form of the old after recent failures.
Yuvraj hit three successive sixes off South African legspinner Imran Tahir to gather 21 runs off 17th over and then smashed a maximum each in the next two overs bowled by Mohammed Shami and Siddarth Kaul. He reserved his best for the last as he hammered Rahul Shukla for 27 runs in the final over, belting four sixes in that over.
Delhi began their chase in the worst possible fashion as they lost both their openers Murali Vijay (1) and Quinton de Kock (6) inside the second over at team total of 10 for 2.
Captain Kevin Pietersen (33) and Mayank Agarwal (31) briefly kept Delhi in the game with a 63-run stand for the third wicket from 7.2 overs before the latter was out. The match was as good as over when Pietersen was out in the 12th over off legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal as Delhi were reduced to 97 for 4, needing 90 runs from eight overs.
Pietersen, who is yet to come up with a big score from his seven innings, hit two fours and a six in his 29-ball knock. He was foxed by Chahal with the turn, as a flatter and shorter delivery beat a charging-down Pietersen for Parthiv Patel to complete an easy stumping.
Dinesh Karthik (1) did not stay long at the crease as he followed his captain at the dressing room just an over later and though JP Duminy hit a six off Chahal soon after, Delhi needed to score 68 runs from the last five overs at an asking rate of 13 runs per over.
Duminy (48 off 30 balls) made a heroic effort along with Kedar Jadhav (37) but the South African's resistance ended in the 18th over and with it, the flicker of hope for Delhi to win also disappeared.
Delhi needed 26 off the last over bowled by Mitchell Starc, and Jadhav hit a six off the first ball but they could score only nine runs from that over.
Veteran offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan and pacer Mitchell Starc took two wickets each for 25 and 26 runs respectively while Abu Nechim and Chahal chipped in with a wicket each.
Earlier, Yuvraj shared a 79-run partnership with Sachin Rana (15 not out) for the unconquered fifth wicket as Bangalore scored 79 runs in the last five overs to end their innings with a flourish. AB de Villiers contributed a useful 33 off just 17 balls.
The Bangalore innings got off to a decent start after Chris Gayle made 22 off 23 balls, smashing two sixes and and a four during his knock. The big-built West Indian, who is yet to get a big score under his belt in this IPL, got out off pacer Rahul Shukla as he tried to smash the ball on the leg side only to get an inside edge that uprooted the stumps.
Captain Virat Kohli (10), who is yet to fire this IPL, once again disappointed the fans as he failed to ground his bat while trying to steal a second run on the throw of Shukla from fine leg.
De Villiers walked into the middle when Bangalore were in the spot of bother after losing two quick wickets with just 45 runs on the board coming from 8.1 overs.
Along with Yuvraj, De Villiers rebuilt the Bangalore innings. He smashed four boundaries and a six in his 33-run knock off 17 balls and he departed with Bangalore struggling at 107 for 4 in 14.2 overs before Yuvraj took centrestage.
(With inputs from PTI)