Kochi: A B de Villiers smashed a blistering unbeaten half century as Royal Challengers Banglaore thumped debutantes Kochi Tuskers Kerala by six wickets in their Indian Premier League on Saturday.
Coming in at 48 for two in the sixth over, South African de Villiers (54 not out) anchored the RCB innings with a strokeful knock which came from 40 balls as the visitors chased down 162 with eight balls to spare on a batting track.
Needing 33 from the last three overs, de Villiers smashed three sixes in the 18th over to take 20 runs from medium pacer Raiphi Gomez to reach his fifty and that changed the complexion of the game.
Gomez was surprisingly introduced for the first time by KTK captain Mahela Jayawardene in the match at that crucial stage.
Asad Pathan then smashed three fours off Vinay Kumar in the penultimate over, including the winning runs, as RCB reached 162 for four in 18.4 overs to stun the cheering KTK supporters who were experiencing their first IPL match at home.
Chasing 162 for a win in their opening match, RCB made a shaky start with their key opener Tillakaratne Dilshan out for just one in the second over.
Dilshan got a leading edge while trying to whip an outswinger off Sreesanth and Brendon McCullum dived forward to take a low and sharp catch.
The early dismissal, however, did not deter RCB batsmen from playing big shots as Virat Kohli and the other opener Mayank Agarwal scored at a brisk pace.
The duo took 13 runs from the fifth over bowled by Ravindra Jadeja with Agarwal hitting the bowler for a six and Kohli a four.
Just as Kohli (23 off 18 balls), one of India`s World Cup heroes, looked like settling in for a big knock, he was dismissed in the sixth over LBW as Vinay Kumar skidded the ball into the right-hander from outside off.
Agarwal greeted the just retired Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan for a six in the off-spinner`s first ball and AB de Villiers smote Sreesanth for a huge six to take 15 runs of the paceman from the ninth over to keep RCB on track.
RCB found themselves at a spot of bother as Agarwal fell in the last ball of the 10th over off Jadeja, holing out to Vinay Kumar at long off to leave his side at 86 for three. Agarwal`s 33 came off 24 balls with the help of two boundaries and as many sixes.
Saurabh Tiwary contributed a useful 24-ball 26 before being out in the 18th over before de Villiers and Pathan took RCB home.
Earlier, KTK rode on a rollicking opening stand between Brendon McCullum and V V S Laxman to post 161 for five.
McCullum (45 off 32 balls) and Laxman (36 off 29 balls) gave KTK a blazing start with a 80-run stand from nine overs in their first IPL outing as the duo rained fours and sixes to take their side to 61 after the sixth over after their captain Mahela Jayawardene elected to bat.
The home side could not cash in on to the strong foundation laid by the openers as they lost wickets at regular intervals but still posted a challenging total.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja played a useful late cameo of 23 not out from 16 balls, which was studded with two fours and a six.
McCullum blasted Australian fast bowler Dirk Nannes for 16 runs in the second over of the innings with two fours and a huge six.
The two openers gave respect to India`s World Cup star bowler Zaheer Khan but carted all the other bowlers to all corners of the park in the initial overs.
The duo sent the crowd at the Nehru Stadium into a frenzy by taking 19 runs off young Abhimanyu Mithun in the sixth overs of the innings with McCullum and Laxman hitting a six each.
The normally slow batter Laxman matched McCullum almost stroke for stroke as he hit another six off Tillakaratne Dilshan and a four off RCB captain Daniel Vettori.
The India Test star was the first to go as he holed out to deep midwicket fielder Cheteshwar Pujara off Dilshan in the ninth over while attempting a big shot to leave KTK at 80/1.
KTK lost the momentum with McCullum dismissed soon after in the 12th over off part-time bowler Virat Kohli to leave the home side at 93 for two.
McCullum went horribly wrong while trying to scoop the ball over the wicketkeeper as he lobbed a catch to Nannes at short third man. His 45 came from 32 balls and was studded with four boundaries and two sixes.
Captain Jayawardene (18) did not contribute much as he was out off his counterpart Vettori in the 16th over as he completely missed the flight of the ball and AB de Villiers whipped off the bails in a flash.
Brad Hodge (27) and Riaphi Gomez (0) were out in the 18th and 19th overs as KTK ended their 20 overs at 161 for five after they were 82 for one at the halfway mark.
For RCB, Vettori was the most impressive bowler with one for 17 runs while Zaheer, Nannes, Dilshan and Kohli also took a wicket apiece.