RCB will face CSK in Qualifier 2 © IANS

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) put in a spirited performance to smash Rajasthan Royals (RR) by 71 runs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 Eliminator at Pune on Wednesday. After AB de Villiers and Mandeep Singh led a terrific resurgence that saw RCB post a commanding 180 for four, the RR batsmen floundered to award RCB a good win. RCB will now face Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Qualifier 2. Live Scorecard: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) vs Rajasthan Royals (RR), IPL 2015 Eliminator

Shane Watson started off with a couple of boundaries, but snicked one behind to Dinesh Karthik to give Sreenath Aravind his first wicket. Sanju Samson came in at No. 3, but edged to the ‘keeper off Harshal Patel for five off eight balls. At 33 for two in the fifth over, Ajinkya Rahane was joined by Steven Smith.Updates: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) vs Rajasthan Royals (RR), IPL 2015 Eliminator

The duo went about their business calmly, adding 22 in three overs, and seeing off RCB till the first strategic timeout. Smith tried to accelerate off the first ball after the break, and ended up getting a leading edge off an attempted off drive to AB de Villiers as David Wiese got his first wicket. IPL 2015 Highest run-scorer: List of best batsmen in IPL 8

Karun Nair came in next, and started consolidating with Rahane. However, both batsmen were guilty of eating up far too many balls without showing a whole lot of intent. Karun was soon out for 12 off 13, giving Karthik his third catch and Harshal his second wicket. RCB soon got the man they were waiting for: Rahane, who top-edged an attempted slog to de Villiers at midwicket off Yuzvendra Chahal. That was the beginning of the end for RR, as they lost one wicket after another. IPL 2015 Highest wicket-taker: List of best bowlers in IPL 8

James Faulkner pulled one on to his boot and was caught by the bowler Aravind; Stuart Binny ran himself out for a golden duck; Chris Morris hit Mitchell Starc to Chahal for a duck; Deepak Hooda hit Wiese to Starc; and Dhawal Kulkarni was cleaned up by Chahal, as RCB triumphed by huge 71-run margin.

Earlier, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli put on 41 for the opening wicket, both batsmen were dismissed in quick succession. Just when it seemed RR were on top, Mandeep and de Villiers led RCB’s fightback with a 113-run stand for the third wicket. Gayle started proceedings for RCB quite well, smashing a boundary off the second delivery of the match. He then greeted Dhawal Kulkarni by hitting him for a four and a six in his first over. Gayle then hit Chris Morris for two boundaries in an over. However, Kulkarni had the last laugh, getting Gayle bowled in his next over for a 26-ball 27. Kohli was out soon thereafter, getting a leading edge back to Kulkarni for 12 off 18 balls. IPL 2015 Most 6s and 4s: List of most dangerous batsmen in IPL 8

That brought in Mandeep Singh to join de Villiers, who had come in at No. 3 as usual. At the start of the partnership, it was Mandeep who took charge. RCB were struggling at 47 for two in nine overs when he hit a four and a six off Kulkarni. He then hit two boundaries off James Faulkner is the Australian’s next over. He showed excellent hand-eye coordination and quick footwork. IPL 2015 Leading fielders: List of Best fielders in IPL 8

At the other end, de Villiers was content with taking the runs in ones and twos to begin with. He let Mandeep dominate initially. At the end of the 14th over, de Villiers was on 17 off 21 balls, while Mandeep was on 28 off 19 balls. One over later, de Villiers had jumped to 35 off 26. There was no looking back after that, as de Villiers started finding the sweet spot of the bat much, much more often than not. IPL 2015 most dismissals by wicketkeeper: List of best wicketkeeper in IPL 8

The duo added 113 runs in very quick time before de Villiers was run out for 66 off 38 with four fours and as many sixes. Mandeep did not allow the dismissal to deter him, hitting a four and six in the same over to bring up his half-century. Dinesh Karthik got off the mark with a six first ball, but was out soon thereafter as RCB ended on a commanding total of 180 for four. Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015: Complete coverage

Brief scores:

Royal Challengers Bangalore 180 for 4 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 66, Mandeep Singh 54*; Dhawal Kulkarni 2 for 28) beat Rajasthan Royals 109 in 19 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 42; Sreenath Aravind 2 for 20; Harshal Patel 2 for 15) by 71 runs.

Man of the Match: AB de Villiers.

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(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)