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IPL 2015 RCB vs KKR: Gayle 96 Guides Wobbly RCB To Win

By on April 12, 2015

Royal Challengers Bangalore 179 for 7 (Gayle 96) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 177 for 6 (Gambhir 58, Russell 41*) by three wickets…

Royal Challengers Bangalore kept losing wickets at one end. Chris Gayle kept hitting fours and sixes at the other. Even as Royal Challengers threatened to implode at 133 for 6 in a chase of 178, Gayle turned down a few singles and hit a few more sixes.

Four short of a hundred, and with seven needed for victory, the man who prefers not to run ran himself out scrambling and diving for a rare second. Royal Challengers still got home with an over to spare, such had been the impact of Gayle’s seven fours and seven sixes in his 96 off 56.

Gayle was put down twice; the first was a tough chance for Morne Morkel diving forward at deep square leg with Gayle on 33. The second was a much simpler catch for the same fielder at the same position with Gayle on 63. Yusuf Pathan was the bowler to suffer on both occasions.

Before he dropped the match, Morkel had worked up testing pace and bounce to take out Gayle’s opening partner Virat Kohli on the pull for 13.

Morkel and Sunil Narine kept Gayle and Kohli quiet at the start, and the Kolkata Knight Riders spin army started to take toll on a helpful surface. Dinesh Karthik and Mandeep Singh fell trying expansive strokes against Pathan to leave Royal Challengers 56 for 3.

IPL 2015 RCB vs KKR: Chris Gayle

Credits: ESPN CricInfo

AB de Villiers came in and targeted Knight Riders’ newest mystery spinner KC Cariappa. The South African had already cracked five boundaries in 12 balls and Royal Challengers appeared to be back in the game when he walked past a flatter one from Cariappa. The asking-rate was almost 12 when Shakib Al Hasan’s flight lured Darren Sammy to his fall in the 15th over.

Gayle had gone about his innings in typical fashion till now. He had been troubled by Narine’s offbreaks, he had mishit a few, but he had also swung some deep into the stands. The over after Sammy fell, Gayle pulled and lofted Pathan for successive boundaries. It was the same over in which Morkel was to put Gayle down decisively.

Uncharacteristically, Gayle now started to push for twos. Abbott was run out off the first such attempt. Gayle responded by turning down singles off the next two balls, yorkers from Shakib. Forty-four needed off 21. Shakib missed the yorker twice in succession. Six, and six more.

Gayle was properly cruising now. Narine was pulled and swept for consecutive fours and two runs taken off the third. With seamer Harshal Patel on strike for the last two balls of the over, Gayle pushed him to try and hit at least one for six. Harshal succeeded on the second attempt.

Gayle could have reached his century two balls later off Morkel had Manish Pandey not managed to jump at deep midwicket and throw a flat hit back in. He saw what had happened in the deep and tried to regain the strike but could not beat Pandey’s throw. He had done enough to ensure, though, that Royal Challengers beat the defending champions.

That had looked improbable with the way Royal Challengers had gone in their season opener. Misfields, missed chances and overthrows in a nervy fielding performance had helped Knight Riders gallop to 177 for 6. Gambhir and Robin Uthappa put on 81 upfront inside 11 overs, with the Knight Riders captain making it successive fifties at the start of the season.

Knight Riders were jolted by the fall of Suryakumar Yadav and Pandey off successive deliveries in the 17th over but Andre Russell blasted an unbeaten 41 off 17 to propel them to what they thought was a good enough total. However, probably no score is sufficient in this format if Gayle lasts as long as the 19th over of a chase.

Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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