Chris Gayle - ‘Universe Boss’ as he calls himself - roared back to his vintage best and smashed bowlers all around the park during his knock of 77(38) in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 21-run win over the Gujarat Lions, that saw him cross a landmark 10,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket.
Returning into the XI in the absence of an injured AB De Villiers, Gayle combined with skipper Kohli, who scored 64 in a 122-run opening stand that set foundations for a huge score for RCB. Then the duo of Travis Head, 30*(16), and Kedhar Jadhav, 38*(16), played rapid cameos to take them well past the 200 mark.
The Lions stuttered right at the start of their chase of 214, losing opener Dwayne Smith cheaply by the second over. Thereafter, Suresh Raina and Brendon McCullum hit a flurry of boundaries to kick-start their chase of this huge score.
The former looked in ominous touch during his brief stay but succumbed to one shot too many and departed for 23 from 8 balls. With McCullum on one side, Lions kept losing wickets at the other as Aaron Finch and Dinesh Karthik followed Raina in quick succession.
Amidst all this, McCullum was in a zone of his own, going for his strokes despite regularly losing partners. In fact, the dismissal of Raina was immediately followed by McCullum taking Pawan Negi for 10 runs in the first two deliveries of the next over.
By the end of the 12th over, Lions were halfway up their target for the loss of four wickets, with McCullum still batting on 56 and looking like he would singlehandedly make a good fist of this chase. However, there was a twist in the tale.
The Turning Point
Close to 13 per over was required from the 12th over and Gujarat Lions had McCullum and Ravindra Jadeja at the crease. The duo picked up 14 and 13 each in the next two overs and kept the chase on course, narrowing down the required equation to 80 off the last six.
With McCullum still going and Jadeja quite capable enough of the big hits, it seemed that a couple of really big overs could throw the game wide open and set us up for a thrilling finish. So the next over was crucial to Lions’ chances.
That was when Yuzvendra Chahal returned for his final over of the day. The leggie had had a fine evening till then, picking key wickets of Smith and Raina, but this was going to be one defining over.
Much to the delight of RCB, Chahal delivered like he has for them several times before and snapped up the big wicket, McCullum. The over began with singles taken off the first three deliveries of it. After pushing through his first three deliveries, Chahal cleverly mixed it up with a generously tossed up delivery off the next.
McCullum went through with his shot but only managed to spoon a catch to Milne at deep midwicket. Besides this wicket, the over also yielded only five runs. This all but sealed any window of opportunity Gujarat Lions had in the game.
How The Game Progressed
With the departure of McCullum, Gujarat Lions’ chase was always a lost cause. Jadeja went back soon after a mix up with Ishan Kishan. However, there was still time in the game for Kishan to play a gem.
The youngster, despite Lions’ defeat, left a mark on the game and earned a moral victory for his side as he smashed a 16-ball 39 in the fag end of Lions’ innings to narrow down the margin of defeat and soften its effect on the Net Run Rate (NRR). The innings was studded with two fours and four sixes, including 20 off the penultimate over from Sreenath Aravind.