Chris Gayle’s barren run with the bat came to an abrupt end in a stunning innings that saw the West Indian at his very best to seal Royal Challengers Bangalore [RCB] victory over the struggling Gujarat Lions on Tuesday night.
It’s fair to say Gayle has not been in great form recently, a run that has even seen him being dropped from the RCB playing XI in this season’s Indian Premier League [IPL].
Niggles to AB de Villiers and Samuel Badree saw the West Indian opener return to the line-up in the match against the Gujarat Lions and he did not disappoint. He needed just three runs to become the first batsman to reach 10,000 runs in T20 cricket and once he got to the mark, Gayle moved into fifth gear in next to no time.
Gayle had one moment of fortune during his knock when he was caught spectacularly in the outfield by Brendon McCullum, but the former New Zealand captain’s sun hat touched the boundary cushion and Gayle survived.
The left-handed opener would end up hitting five fours and seven sixes en route to scoring 77 from just 38 deliveries. Gayle was well supported by Royal Challengers captain Virat Kohli as the duo put on a 122-run partnership for the first wicket, their 10th-century stand together, which is a record in T20 cricket.
Kohli would go on to notch up his second half-century of the tournament in just his third outing this season, scoring a 50-ball 64 which included seven fours and one six.
The dismissals of Gayle and Kohli did not stop Bangalore from posting a big total as Travis Head and Kedar Jadhav struck some lusty blows at the back-end of the innings to take the visitors past the 200-run mark.
Head managed an unbeaten 30 from 16 balls while Jadhav did slightly better by ending the innings on 38 not out from the same number of deliveries. Their partnership was worth 54 runs from just 25 balls as RCB ended their innings on 213-2.
The Gujarat spinners, especially, took a bit of a hammering with Ravindra Jadeja and Shivil Kaushik going for 93 runs in the seven overs they bowled between them.
In reply, the Lions got off to the worst possible start, losing opener Dwayne Smith with just one run on the board.
In came skipper Suresh Raina, who started a counter-attack which immediately put the Royal Challengers’ bowlers on the back foot. The 30-year-old looked set for a vintage knock, but his innings was cut short on 23 from just eight balls by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
McCullum was still at the crease, though, and there were signs of him being in prime form and it looked for a while that he would lead Gujarat to victory, nine years to the day that the New Zealander kicked off the IPL with an unbeaten 158 against the same opponents.
The 35-year-old went on to register his second successive half-century but as the asking rate rose, he mistimed a big shot and was caught by former international team-mate Adam Milne at deep mid-wicket.
It was Chahal who dismissed McCullum and the Royal Challengers spinner was definitely the star with the ball for Kohli’s side. He picked up three important wickets that swung the match decisively in RCB’s favour.
Chahal was well supported by fellow spinner Pawan Negi, who conceded just 21 runs and took one wicket in his four overs. Those bowling figures are especially impressive when you consider that 405 runs were scored in the match in 40 overs.
Ishan Kishan showed glimpses of his talent with some big hits towards the end of the game, scoring a 16-ball 39 in a knock which included two fours and four sixes. But the game was always going to be out of his reach and in the end, the Royal Challengers went on to record a 21-run victory.
With this win, the Bengaluru-based franchise move off the bottom of the table and climb up to sixth, while Gujarat now find themselves at the last spot.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 213-2, 20 overs [Gayle 77, Kohli 64, Thampi 1-31] beat Gujarat Lions 192-7, 20 overs [McCullum 72, Kishan 39, Chahal 3-31] by 21 runs.
Player of the Match – Chris Gayle