Royal Challengers downs Gujarat Lions in high-scoring clash

Brendon McCullum threatened to make a mockery of 214-run target set by Royal Challengers, but Gujarat Lions found the target insurmountable after his departure and slipped to a 21-run loss at home.

Chris Gayle was in full flow against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot on Tuesday.   -  PTI

 

Brendon McCullum did turn the clock back to that night in Bengaluru exactly nine years ago, when his onslaught of 158 not out against the same opposition as Tuesday's in the inaugural match of the first edition of the Indian Premier League. However, McCullum's efforts were not enough to match those of the Royal Challengers Bangalore's top four, led by the burly Chris Gayle, as the visiting team cantered to a 21-run victory against Gujarat Lions at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Chasing a target as gargantuan as 214 set by the Royal Challengers, McCullum not only had to fire on all cylinders but also required support from the other end. But in the absence of Samuel Badree, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal picked a wicket in each of his two overs in the Powerplay to peg the Gujarat Lions back. Even though McCullum revived memories of his marduous best, with wickets falling at the other end consistently, the Lions was never really in the game despite the Kiwi's whirlwind 72. Ishan Kishan's cameo after McCullum holed out in deep off Chahal ensured Lions didn't damage its net run rate badly.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: CHRIS GAYLE

But considering the fact that the top four of RCB competed with each other in terms of dominating a largely hapless Lions bowling attack, the host needed more than a single-handed performance with the bat. Chris Gayle and Travis Head – coming in for the injured AB de Villiers and Badree – combined with captain Virat Kohli and in-form Kedar Jadhav to help the Royal Challengers put on 213 for two, the highest total of the season.

Gayle and Kohli took their time to settle down, taking minimal risks in the Powerplay, with the Caribbean giant becoming the first batsman to score 10,000 T20 runs early on in the innings. But once the spinners came on, Gayle started opening his shoulders at will. Jadeja, the No. 1 Test bowler in the world, bore the brunt as Gayle scored 27 runs off the eight balls he faced from the hometown hero. In fact, two of the five overs that saw RCB piling on more than 15 runs were bowled by Jadeja.

Jadeja, while going for 21 runs in his opening over, almost got rid of Gayle, thanks to a sensational diving catch by McCullum on the boundary line in the eighth over. But the Kiwi's hat came in contact with the rope as he tumbled over after completing the catch.

The Gayle show was eventually over in the 13th over, with Basil Thampi – who continued his impressive performance, combining perfect yorkers with a variety of slower balls – trapping him in front of the wickets. Kohli then took over soon after completing his slowest IPL fifty, off 43 balls.

With Kohli holing out in the deep off Dhawal Kulkarni in the 16th over, the Lions could have hoped for a sub-200 target. However, Head and Jadhav ended the innings on a high with an unbroken 54-run partnership off just 25 balls.