The last time Royal Challengers Bangalore featured in a rain-shortened chase, they faltered against the bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab, and that too not chasing a hugely challenging total. But, Virat Kohli’s men learnt from their mistakes and ensured that this time they went past the finishing line. In a match where players spent more time out of the field than in it due to rain, the only numbers that mattered for Bangalore were getting 81 in six overs. They did so, off the penultimate ball and, with it, all earned an extremely crucial win, against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Gayle began the chase right earnest smashing 35 in merely 10 balls, and skipper Kohli finished off things by remaining unbeaten on 44 from 19 deliveries. Going for quick runs, Bangalore lost three wickets quickly, including the big one of AB de Villiers, but Kohli kept his cool, and saw the team through. In the last over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar tried his best to outdo the opponent captain, but came second best. The match ended with Kohli hitting the bowler for two fours and a six -- the boundaries carved through point and third man, and the six being lofted off a length delivery.
While Kohli was the hero of the match, Gayle’s contribution was no less significant. He began the chase by smashing Gayle to the square leg boundary, and then pulling him into the crowd the very next ball. Kohli chipped in with a wristy four as 17 runs came off the opening over. It got even better for Bangalore in the next over as Gayle took full toll of Bhuvneshwar’s lack of pace. He smashed the bowler for three fours and two sixes in the over, looting 24 runs, and pretty much sealing the game in Bangalore’s favour.
The pyrotechnics of Kohli and Gayle overshadowed the efforts of David Warner and Moises Henriques, who had put up an equally entertaining, if not brutal, exhibition of stroke play. Having lost Shikhar Dhawan early, the duo was completely at ease against Bangalore’s bowlers. For a change, Henriques was more dominant of the two as he hit 57 from merely 22 balls with the help of five fours and four sixes. Warner, on the other hand, remained unbeaten on a more sedate 52 from 32, with five fours and one six.
Hyderabad finished with an impressive 135 for 3, but further rain meant that Bangalore only had to bat six overs, which proved to be a win-win situation for them.
--By A Cricket Correspondent