An uncharacteristically slow-scoring Chris Gayle was integral to helping Bangalore successfully chase 139 with a ball to spare to defeat the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.
The West Indian batsman scored at less than a run a ball, but importantly remained at the crease for the majority to see his team over the modest total on what was a sluggish pitch.
Gayle was given good support from world-class names, with Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers also playing starring roles in the victorious run chase. As a result of the win, the Royal Challengers have kept their chances of progressing in the tournament alive.
They temporarily move level on points with fourth-placed Kolkata Knight Riders, although Banagalore have played a game more and only have three fixtures remaining.
Meanwhile, the defeat shouldn’t be too damaging for Chennai, who remain second in the standings.
Having won the toss, Super Kings captain MS Dhoni elected to bat first. That decision seemed vindicated when Brendon McCullum hit Muttiah Muralitharan for an early six.
But the New Zealand opener was soon dismissed by Varun Aaron, who had the big hitter caught out by Mitchell Starc for just 19. The loss of the first wicket prompted the arrival of Suresh Raina at the crease – the Indian would bat for the remainder of his side’s 20 overs.
The number three only recorded one six during his 48-ball knock, but still scored 62 not-out regardless. Dhoni was the last man to be dismissed, being caught by Gayle for just seven as his side concluded their innings on 138-4.
In reply, Bangalore were quite measured with the bat, slowly chipping away at the victory target. Gayle hit six boundaries, yet failed to raise his strike rate above 100.
Instead, he played the abnormal role of taking singles and keeping the scoreboard ticking over, rather than trying to smash every ball out of the ground.
Kohli (27) provided a good supplementary stint when he arrived in the middle. Like Gayle, he was content to gradually move towards the 139 target.
The spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindrasinh Jadeja eventually accounted for Gayle and Kohli respectively, but not before the pair shared a 61-run partnership.
Captain Kohli was the first to fall, which invited de Villiers to the middle. Unlike his teammates, the South African was ready to raise the rate of scoring and put their opponents under pressure.
An innings of 28 runs from 14 balls boosted Banaglore’s chances of victory. Despite getting out with his side still 14 runs shy of the two points, Yuvraj Singh was capable of overseeing the remainder of the run chase as the Royal Challengers won by five wickets.
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