It was a familiar sight for Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh as they saw James Faulkner steal victory from the jaws of defeat in Bangalore on Sunday. In October 2013, Faulkner had smashed 56 off 27 balls against India in Mohali to seal an improbable win for the Aussies.
The tournament may have been different, the jerseys might have changed, but the situation was one and the same. Faulkner blazed to a 17-ball 41 not out that ensured Rajasthan Royals would successfully reach their target with five wickets and seven balls to spare.
The 24 year-old Aussie was quick to admit that he chose to take on the seamers after they had been kept quiet by the Bangalore spinners. The plan, Faulkner said, was to stay out in the middle and then go for the big shots.
Faulkner and Steve Smith, who scored 48 not out off 21 balls, came together at the fall of Karun Nair's wicket (106/5 in 14th over). At that time Rajasthan needed 85 off 39 balls. The Aussie duo plundered the runs in just 32 balls. Faulkner believed that the 18th over by Ashok Dinda, which produced 22 runs, swung the game in Rajasthan's favour. Rajasthan got past their winning target of 191 with seven balls to spare.
"They were holding us up with spin, so personally I thought I'll just play myself in; maybe get a single or play out a dot or if it's a bad one, put it away. I started a bit slowly and then thought I'll take on the medium pacers. It worked for me, but I thought the 18th over where Steven took on Ashok Dinda (for 22 runs) was when the game swung back in our favour. The rest is history," Faulkner told www.iplt20.com.
While Faulkner felt this win was special, he was all praise for the innings played by Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers.
"I thought AB de Villiers played an exceptional innings and he is one of the hardest players to bowl to in T20 cricket. We knew it was going to be tough coming against him. Then add Yuvraj's innings to that, which was unbelievable. So, two class players took the game away from us at the halfway mark. We won the game of cricket in the end, but it was a very hard one," said Faulkner.
Yuvraj hit 83 off 38 while De Villiers scored 58 from 32. They added 132 runs for the fourth wicket and resurrected Royal Challengers Bangalore's innings from 40/3 to 190/5.
The Australian all-rounder, who went for 42 in four overs, did concede that Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium is not his favourite as far as bowling is concerned, but sincerely hoped that Rajasthan would be back here to play the final.
"Yes, I must admit that this is not one of my favourite grounds in the world to bowl at, especially when you are bowling to some of the world's best T20 cricketers. We might have to come back here for the final, but there is a lot of cricket to be played before that," Faulkner signed off.
Rajasthan Royals are currently ranked third in the IPL points table with 12 points from 9 games while Royal Challengers Bangalore languish in sixth position with six points in 9 matches.