IPL 2016: Fireworks from Kohli-ABD keep RCB's playoff hopes alive

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Image Courtesy: © IPL

IPL 2016: Fireworks from Kohli-ABD keep RCB's playoff hopes alive

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Arun S Kaimal


Centuries from Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers helped Royal Challengers Bangalore defeat Gujarat Lions by 144 runs at Bengaluru on Saturday to reignite their playoff hopes. Gujarat never got going in their chase, and ended up short after some good bowling from Chris Jordan and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Brief Scores: RCB 248/3 in 20 overs (de Villiers 129*(52), Kohli 109(55), Praveen Kumar 2/45) beat GL 104 all-out in 18.4/20 overs (Finch 37(38), Jadeja 21(19), Jordan 4/11) by 144 runs 

After losing their match against Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore in their green attire welcomed second-placed Gujarat Lions for their penultimate home match of the season. RCB skipper Virat Kohli lost his eighth toss out of 11 he has participated in this IPL and Gujarat Lions opted to bowl first at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. With Suresh Raina missing his first-ever IPL match since the tournament’s inception in 2008, Kiwi Brendon McCullum took over captaincy duties, while Akshdeep Nath came in for Raina. On the other hand, RCB kept faith with the same Xi that played against Mumbai Indians.

Gayle flops again, Virat, ABD saviours again

1,0,7, and 5 were the scores for Chris Gayle this IPL, and his poor run with the bat continued as Dhawal Kulkarni removed the West Indian for yet another single digit score in the fourth over. The left-hander chopped the ball back onto the stumps to walk back to the dressing room. A partnership was the need of the hour for RCB, and it was once again Kohli and AB de Villiers who did the job for the home side.

When Kohli scored at a run-a-ball in the initial overs, de Villiers smashed the second ball he faced for six over cover to make his intent clear. Boundaries flew off the South African’s bat as the run rate, which was below five when he came to bat, surged above 7 in a matter of three overs. McCullum changed bowler after bowler in search of a wicket, but it made no difference to de Villiers as RCB put 76 runs on the board at the half-way mark. But, the carnage was yet to come.

Raining sixes and fours

76 runs in the first ten were below par in the batting-friendly conditions at the Chinnaswamy stadium, but Kohli and de Villiers more than made up for it with their performances in the final ten overs. It was Kohli who started it in the 12th over by Kulkarni, hitting him for a six over long-on in the first delivery of the over. De Villiers took Kohli’s lead and sent Kulkarni for two more fours and a six in the same over to bring up his half-century off 25 balls. That was the start RCB needed as de Villiers raced past his third IPL century in a matter of 18 balls after getting to the fifty.

At the end of the 17th over, RCB were 173/1 with de Villiers batting on 112 and Kohli on 52. The skipper, who was playing second fiddle all this while changed his gears and took the bowlers to the cleaners in the last three overs. Dwayne Bravo and Shivil Kaushik conceded 30 runs each in the 18th and 19th over respectively to help Kohli reach from 52 to 95 in a matter of two overs. A six straight down the ground off Praveen Kumar’s last over gave the RCB skipper his third century of the IPL season to become the first cricketer to achieve the feat in the 9 editions of the competition. Praveen Kumar removed Kohli and Watson in back-to-back deliveries to end the innings, but the damage was already done with the home side posting 248/3 – the second highest total in IPL history – with the help of the 229-run stand between Kohli and de Villiers – the highest partnership in IPL history.

After sixes and fours, a flurry of wickets

Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum walked out hoping to chase an improbable target of 249. 12.45 runs were needed per over and the scoreboard pressure led to the downfall of the Gujarat batsmen. Sreenath Aravind struck in the second over to remove Smith after a good length ball sneaked under his bat to castle the stumps. The runs were simply not coming for the away side, and skipper McCullum’s efforts to deposit leggie Yuzvendra Chahal in the stands saw him gifting an easy catch to de Villiers near the long-off boundary. The procession to the pavilion continued as Chris Jordan removed Dinesh Karthik and Ravindra Jadeja in back-to-back deliveries before Chahal struck again to end Bravo’s short stay at the crease. Aaron Finch delayed the inevitable with a 37-run knock off 38 balls, but RCB bowlers folded the Gujarat Lions innings in the 19th over to register a convincing 144 runs victory. 

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