Royal Challengers Bangalore rode on a Chris Gayle blitzkrieg to keep their hopes of making the Indian Premier League play-offs alive with a 21-run win over Delhi Daredevils on Thursday.
Mahela Jayawardene, captaining Delhi in place of the injured Virender Sehwag, put the visitors in and was rewarded early on for his decision as Varun Aaron (1-38) sent back Tillakaratne Dilshan in the third over.
But Gayle made 128 off 62 balls and Virat Kohli scored 73 off 53 deliveries to put on 204 runs for the second wicket as Bangalore notched up 215-1, the highest total of the season.
Delhi's reply was valiant with New Zealander Ross Taylor striking form to score a 26-ball 55 with Venugopal Rao (36 off 24) contributing at the top but the target was always out of reach with several others making cameos to finish on 194-9.
Zaheer Khan (3-38) started Bangalore's defense positively dismissing the dangerous David Warner (15 off 9) in the second over and R Vinay Kumar (2-35) sent back Unmukt Chand (18 off 10) in the fifth.
RCB struck gold when Jayawardene (9 off 14) edged Prasanth Parameswaran (3-30) to AB de Villiers behind the stumps to leave Delhi on 69-3 in the ninth over.
Rao and Taylor then combined well to put on 38 in 20 balls to get the chase back on track before Muttiah Muralitharan sent back the Delhi wicketkeeper batsman in the 12th over.
Taylor continued to be aggressive and consistently found the mid-wicket boundary with Naman Ojha (13 off 12), who fell to Zaheer in the 16th over when 65 were needed of 27 balls, giving support.
Taylor departed next over, failing to clear Mayank Agarwal at mid-wicket off Vinay Kumar and though Andre Russell (31 off 15) managed some big hits, it could only reduce the margin of defeat.
Earlier, Gayle came to the party in a must-win game for Bangalore after starting in his now-customary sedate fashion that included playing a maiden from Umesh Yadav (0-42).
Kohli was aggressive from the start but it did not look like Bangalore would attain the total they managed, reaching 79-1 after 10 overs with Gayle making 35 off 29 balls.
But Gayle changed several gears at one go, hitting three sixes in an Irfan Pathan (0-44) over and three more off Pawan Negi (0-37) to follow it up with a couple more off Yadav in the 17th over with Aaron turning out to be the only bowler to concede less than 10 runs per over.
Bangalore now have 17 points from 15 games and a win in their final match against Deccan Chargers will seal their place in the final four where Delhi and Kolkata Knight Riders have already booked two places.