AB, Gayle turn on style
Johannesburg - Chris Gayle led from the front before AB de Villiers sealed a stunning six-wicket win for the Royal Challengers Bangalore over the Pune Warriors in their IPL match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
Pune had posted a formidable 182 for six thanks to a silky 69 off 45 balls from Robin Uthappa but Gayle blasted 81 off just 48 deliveries, which included him hitting five consecutive sixes off the bowling of leg-spinner Rahul Sharma.
De Villiers then romped to 33 not out off a mere 14 balls as Bangalore reached 186 for four with the winning runs coming off the last ball of the innings.
Bangalore began the last over needing an unlikely looking 21 runs to win. Left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra was tasked with bowling the last over but De Villiers struck the second, third and fourth balls of the over for 4, 6 and 6 respectively before Saurabh Tiwary (36 not out) thumped the last ball for six.
Gayle brought up his fifty off 38 deliveries but he needed just 10 more balls to score 28 runs with his entire innings including four fours and eight sixes.
The left-handed Gayle’s brutal assault on Sharma happened in the 13th over but he was yorked by Nehra in the 16th over to leave Bangalore on 127 for four still needing 56 runs for victory off 26 balls.
De Villiers rose to the challenge and his inventive hitting saw him collect two fours and three sixes during his innings as Bangalore claimed just their second win in five matches.
Opening batsman Uthappa had earlier showed superb form as he brought up his fifty off 33 balls before being dismissed after having struck nine fours and two sixes.
The right-handed Uthappa’s innings was not completely flawless and he enjoyed a life when, with his score on 63, he was dropped at long-off by KP Appanna.
The in-form Warriors won the toss and elected to bat and Uthappa and Jesse Ryder provided the team with a wonderful platform as the duo pounded 63 runs for the first wicket off seven overs.
The powerfully-built Ryder was the initial aggressor but, after bashing his way to 34 off 22 balls, he top-edged a delivery from medium-pacer Harshal Patel before being caught by Mayank Agarwal at deep square leg.
Pune then slipped to 115 for three when Sourav Ganguly (6) was caught at deep point off the bowling of seamer Vinay Kumar before the well-set Uthappa slashed a delivery from left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori to Patel at backward point.
But Marlon Samuels, with an entertaining 34 off 20 deliveries, and Steven Smith (16) got the innings back on track before both men were run out in consecutive overs before Angelo Mathews (10) was dismissed in the final over when he was caught at mid-off off the bowling of Vinay.
Vinay finished with figures of 2-34.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 186-4 (Chris Gayle 81, Saurabh Tiwary 36 not out, AB de Villiers 33 not out) def. Pune Warriors 182-5 (Robin Uthappa 69, Jesse Ryder 34, Marlon Samuels 34; Vinay Kumar 2-34).
Time for the playoffs
As I write this, we’re just a few hours out from our playoff game against the Mumbai Indians.