It was just the kind of script that was expected to end Royal Challengers Bangalore’s sequence of defeats this season.
The mantra for RCB was simple - win the toss, elect to field and chase down the target. Skipper Virat Kohli did everything right on these counts. His 67 and the 85-run second-wicket stand with Man-of-the-Match A.B. de Villiers shut out Kings XI Punjab, thereby opening Bangalore’s tally with an emphatic eight-wicket win.
For the record, like Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) in 2013, Bangalore’s run of defeats from the start of a season stopped at six.
The target of 174, built on Chris Gayle’s unbeaten 99, was far from intimidating on this ground and conditions. This evening, much more than dew, Punjab had to deal with a duo known for its destructive powers. In the process, the Kohli-de Villiers pair also became the most successful in IPL. Kohli and Chris Gayle held the previous record of 2787 runs.
Highlights: KXIP vs RCB
When Kohli fell, 46 runs were needed off 4.3 overs. Marcus Stoinis, after being dropped at 14 by Murugan Ashwin, kept de Villiers’ company and ensured Bangalore’s victory. The genius of de Villiers was on display during his well-composed 59.
Earlier, Gayle was back to doing what he does best. There was no sign of back-spasms that kept him out when Mumbai Indians batted at home earlier this week. With Bangalore opting to keep the spinners out of powerplay, Gayle treated comeback-man Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj with disdain and smashed 48 runs during the first six overs that produced 60 runs.
Before long, three of Gayle’s ex-RCB colleagues - K. L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Sarfaraz Khan - departed. By sheer coincidence, each of these in-form batsmen hit a six and got dismissed the next ball!
Had Bangalore reviewed for a leg-before decision off the fifth ball of the innings, Gayle would have been out for a duck off Umesh. Again on 83, Gayle was lucky when Kohli, running forward, dropped a low catch at long-on, again off Umesh.
Gayle waited and again started the onslaught when Siraj and Umesh returned at the business end of the innings. Against the spin of Yuzuvendra Chahal and Moeen Ali, Gayle was circumspect.
For the statistically-inclined, Gayle’s innings was built on only 20 scoring strokes. He smashed 82 runs (nine 4s and five 6s) off 41 deliveries of pace and 17 runs (one 4), off 23 balls of spin.
With none of the other batsmen making a sizeable contribution, Gayle carrying the bat did not result in what could be considered a match-winning total. Indeed, it was not.
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