IPL 2016: Kohli’s ton goes in vain as Gujarat Lions go top of table

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© Official IPL

IPL 2016: Kohli’s ton goes in vain as Gujarat Lions go top of table

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Debarshee Mitra


Gujarat Lions rode on a collective effort by their batsmen to chase down Bangalore’s total of 180 to register a 6-wicket victory at Rajkot on Sunday evening. Earlier,Virat Kohli notched up his first-ever T20 century and posted a strong total with the help of KL Rahul, who also scored a half-century.

Brief Scores: RCB 180/2 in 20 overs (Kohli 100*(63), Rahul 51*(35), Tambe 1/24) lost to GL 182/4 in 19.3 overs (Karthik 50(39), Mccullum 42(24), Shamsi 1/21)

Chasing a target of 181 runs, the Gujarat Lions sent in Dwayne Smith instead of Aaron Finch who had earlier left the field during the first innings. After taking the first over to settle down, Smith whacked Kane Richardson in the second over and then Yuzvendra Chahal in the third. But some problems with his shoe saw Smith lose his focus, and he departed in the sixth after mistiming a cross-seamer from Richardson to give de Villiers an easy catch at long on. But the dismissal seemed to rub off on McCullum, who had so far only been a spectator to the hitting. The Kiwi opener sent the ball to the boundary on four consecutive deliveries of Richardson’s over to put the Lions on top after the powerplay with 72 on board.

With the run-rate rising, Kohli turned to his spinners in search of a breakthrough and Tabraiz Shamsi did not disappoint. After a tight first over, where he conceded only 5 runs, Shamsi returned for his second over and sent back the dangerous-looking McCullum. Baz closed the face of his blade too early, and Shamsi grabbed the leading edge to send back the New Zealander to pull RCB back into the game.

Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina then stabilized the ship with some sensible batting and ensured that the chasing rate never went above 9. With 45 required from 30, and Lions only two wickets down, Kohli brought on Chahal one more time into the attack, and the leggie delivered with Raina’s wicket to put the pressure back on the chasing side. But Karthik stuck to his task and got his 50 in the last over of the innings. Although Shane Watson dismissed Ravindra Jadeja with four balls left, Dwayne Bravo came out next and finished the proceedings with a boundary. 

Earlier in the day, Virat Kohli won his first toss in this season of IPL and bravely decided to bat first in a season where chasing teams have enjoyed unprecedented success. But RCB’s two wins of the season came after they were put into bat Kohli made two changes to his side with Harshal Patel making the way for Yuzvendra Chahal and Kedar Jadhav coming in for Mandeep Singh, who injured himself in the warmup. While RCB went with a three-prong spin attack, Gujarat Lions made two changes to their side as Shadab Jakati and Dwayne Smith were drafted into the eleven.

After failing to have a good opening stand in any of their opening 4 games, the Bengaluru-based team chose to push Shane Watson up the order. The change did not make much difference to RCB’s fortunes as Shane Watson departed in the second over after he failed to read Dhawal Kulkarni’s slower delivery and skied the ball up in the air for Ravindra Jadeja to grab a regulation catch.

Then, de Villiers and Virat Kohli looked to anchor the innings like they have done so many times already this season. Kohli smacked two boundaries off Praveen Kumar in the third, and AB followed the act in the next. Raina had seen enough and decided to introduce spin into the attack, but Kohli looked in menacing form. The 27-year old welcomed Praveen Tambe to the bowling crease with two delightful boundaries through cover as RCB looked to be in control. Shadab Jakati received similar treatment in the next over as the left-armer went for 12 runs, and RCB were cruising at 50/1 at the end of powerplay.

That did not stop Lions captain Raina from keeping faith in his spinners, and his persistence was richly rewarded in the 7th over. Tambe’s length ball was driven neatly by AB, only to find Raina at short cover. The end of the 51-run partnership brought KL Rahul to the crease, and the keeper-batsman ably supported his captain with a sensible innings of 51 off 35. Kohli meanwhile looked like succumbing to the 38 degrees temperature in Gujarat and appeared to be cramping. That, however, did not stop him from bringing up his 4th fifty of the season. Rahul also joined the act in the 16th over smacking Kulkarni for back-to-back sixes, and soon after, brought up his own fifty as the duo powered RCB forward.

Batting on 85 with one over to go, Virat Kohli found himself within touching distance of his maiden T20 century. The RCB skipper went after Bravo in the last over and hit the West Indian all over the park to go to 96 with one ball remaining. Kohli steered a delivery outside off stump to the third man boundary on the final ball to finish the innings with a century off 63 balls.

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