A scintillating innings from AB de Villiers put Royal Challengers Bangalore through to the Indian Premier League final as Gujarat Lions were beaten by four wickets at M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday.
Tournament debutants the Lions looked destined to reach their first IPL final when Dhawal Kulkarni ended Virat Kohli's sensational form and took 4-14 with a stunning burst to reduce RCB to 29-5 in reply to 158 all out.
But De Villiers could not be dislodged, blasting an unbeaten 79 from only 47 balls with support from Iqbal Abdulla (33 not out) as the Royal Challengers sealed a place in Sunday's final at their home ground.
Dwayne Smith rescued the Lions from 9-3 with a brutal 73 not out off 41 balls, while Shane Watson took 4-29 for a star-studded RCB side who could yet face the same opponents when they attempt to claim a first IPL title this weekend.
RCB won four games in succession to secure second place and had a spring in their step when Abdulla (2-38) and Watson struck to get rid of Aaron Finch (4), Brendon McCullum (1) and Suresh Raina (1) inside four overs.
Former West Indies batsman Smith dug his side out of a hole, punishing anything short and clubbing Chris Jordan over the ropes before launching Yuzvendra Chahal for three of his six sixes.
Kulkarni silenced a huge crowd by bowling Chris Gayle (9) and the previously irrepressible Kohli (0) before claiming another two scalps, but De Villiers pulled RCB off the ropes in spectacular fashion.
The South Africa star hit five sixes and as many fours in a classy knock under pressure to get his side home with 10 balls to spare and ensure the Lions must beat either Sunrisers Hyderabad or Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday to set up a re-match in the decider.