A sizzling knock of 96 off 56 balls from Chris Gayle took Royal Challengers Bangalore over the finish line in a tense clash against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens.
Chasing 178, the Royal Challengers kept losing wickets on regular intervals but Gayle held the inning together with a belligerent knock that contained seven hits to the fence and as many over it.
He was out in the penultimate over of the match but victory had been all but sealed by then. Earlier, Bangalore elected to bowl first and it looked a poor decision as Kolkata raced to 50 in 5.2 overs.
Openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa added 81 in 10.4 overs before the latter was out slogging against seamer Darren Sammy. However Gambhir carried on and brought up his half-century, his second in a row.
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The Knight Riders were well placed at 101-1 from 13 overs, eyeing a score close to 200. But Gambhir mistimed a sweep against leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and that ended an enterprising innings.
Manish Pandey (23 from 15) and Suryakumar Yadav (11 from nine) tried to push the scoring but failed. It was left to West Indies allrounder Andre Russell to score the big shots towards the end.
Russell hit two sixes and six boundaries in his 17-ball 41 and was helped greatly by some inept fielding as the scoreboard read a respectable 177-6.
In reply, Kohli promoted himself to open but was soon caught behind off Morne Morkel’s bowling, attempting to go for a hook.
The Royal Challengers kept up with the scoring rate thanks mainly to Gayle. He, however, didn’t get much support from the other end as both Dinesh Karthik and Mandeep Singh were bowled by Yusuf Pathan in the eighth over.
De Villiers came in and took the attack to young spinner KC Cariappa, but the bowler had the last laugh as he had the Protea stumped for 28 off 13 balls.
However, Gayle carried on and reached his 50 from 37 deliveries. Even after Sean Abbott was run out, leaving his team on 133-6 in 16.1 overs, Gayle continued his onslaught. He was ultimately run out on 96 trying to go for a suicidal single.
That didn’t prove too costly though as seamers Harshal Patel and Abu Nechim held their nerves finish off the game.
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