Gayle leads Bangalore charge
Chris Gayle (Gallo Images)
Jaipur - West Indies opener Chris Gayle hammered an unbeaten 70 to help Bangalore Royal Challengers close in on an IPL play-off spot with a nine-wicket victory over former champions Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday.
Gayle smashed four sixes and six fours in his 44-ball knock as Bangalore raced to 151-1 off 17 overs in reply to Rajasthan's 146-6.
He wasn't retained by Kolkata Knight Riders and was unsold in this year's auction before becoming a late addition to Bangalore's team to help them change their fortunes.
Gayle has slammed two centuries, with Bangalore winning six consecutive matches since he joined them.
Bangalore are in second position with 15 points from 11 games, one point behind Mumbai Indians.
Rajasthan remain fifth.
Gayle was dropped on 13 when Rajasthan skipper Shane Warne, playing his last home game as he is retiring after this year's IPL, failed to hold on to the ball at mid-off from the bowling of South African all-rounder Johan Botha.
The left-handed former West Indian captain went on to add 68 for the opening wicket with Sri Lankan batsman Tillekaratne Dilshan, a partnership that put the chase firmly on course.
Dilshan slammed 38 off 24 balls with eight fours before he was caught superbly by Ross Taylor off Warne at deep mid-wicket.
Gayle then took his team home with stand-in skipper Virat Kohli, who remained not out on 39.
"It has been great fun to play here for four seasons, very enjoyable," Warne said. "(It is) disappointing to finish off like that, we were 20 runs short and dropped a few catches."
Earlier, Rajasthan had looked set for a big total after a solid 73-run opening stand between Australian opener Shane Watson and Indian Rahul Dravid, but their departure in quick succession derailed the innings.
Watson struck 34 off 29 balls with two sixes and three fours before he was caught at long off by AB de Villiers off left-arm pace bowler Sreenath Aravind. Dravid, who struck 37 off 31 deliveries, fell two balls later as Aravind juggled a return catch before holding on to it.
Sreenath also induced an edge from Botha (19) to finish with figures of 3-34.
The rest of the middle-order, including New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor (13), failed to sparkle.
In the only match on Thursday, defending champions Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils clash in Chennai.
Bangalore Royal Challengers 151-1 in 17 overs (Chris Gayle 70 not out, Virat Kohli 39 not out, Tillekaratne Dilshan 38) def. Rajasthan Royals 146-6 in 20 overs (Rahul Dravid 37, Shane Watson 34; Sreenath Aravind 3-34).