Chris Gayle was going at around a run a ball against some tight bowling. Then he calmly decided to shift gears. The bowling ceased to matter; five consecutive sixes came against the bowler with one of the best economy-rates in the IPL, Rahul Sharma. Treating that Rahul over as an aberration, Pune Warriors responded with more tight bowling, with Ashish Nehra yorking Gayle. But AB de Villiers and Saurabh Tiwary hit 24 off the final over, bowled by Nehra, to pull off an improbable win, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s first in four games.
For more than three-quarters of the game, the Royal Challengers had played catch-up to the Warriors. After Robin Uthappa‘s 69 took the visitors to 182, they had kept the Royal Challengers, and Gayle, in check for 12 overs. Gayle and Virat Kohli, game-changers both, had crawled along in a partnership of 30 in 35 deliveries. The asking-rate had ballooned to over 13, with 111 needed from 50. It claimed Kohli, who found deep point as he tried to hit out.
Kohli’s dismissal fired up Gayle, who was on 37 off 35 then. Rahul bowled short, he bowled full, he went around the stumps, he went wide of the crease, he went wide of Gayle. To no avail. Five consecutive sixes later, the asking-rate was down by more than a couple of runs.
Warriors were stunned but they recovered quickly. Ashok Dinda, battling a painful side strain, conceded just 12 in two overs, including seven off the penultimate one with Royal Challengers needing 28 from 12. In between, Nehra had, for once, found the perfect yorker to send Gayle back for 81 off 48.
De Villiers and Tiwary kept the Royal Challengers in the hunt, hitting a six each to take 16 off the 18th over bowled by Angelo Mathews. Dinda’s final over, the19th, seemed to have left Royal Challengers too much to get in the 20th over – 21.
De Villiers scrambled outside off to play the scoop off the second delivery in the final over, arming it past the wicketkeeper for four. Nehra delivered a low full toss and a length ball next. De Villiers smoked one straight down the ground for six; the next one was scooped nervelessly for another six over fine leg. With three needed off the last ball, Tiwary swung a length ball over the long-on boundary even as the rain came pouring down. Marlon Samuels, who had gone for under three an over, had two overs left.
Somehow, the Royal Challengers’ batsmen had delivered after their bowlers had once again conceded a substantial score. Uthappa did most of the scoring with a power-packed half-century at the top of the order with Jesse Ryder and Samuels chipping in with smaller contributions.
The opening partnership between Uthappa and Ryder was worth 63 in seven overs. By then, Uthappa was in complete control. He timed three consecutive reverse-sweeps off Dilshan, with two of them beating short third man. He was put down by KP Appanna at long-off, a tough diving chance off Vinay Kumar in the 12th over but departed in the next as he sliced Daniel Vettori to point. The Warriors went at the same rate of around nine an over after Uthappa’s dismissal with Samuels smashing the spinners for a couple of sixes. As it turned out, though, even 13 an over wasn’t enough to deny Gayle, De Villiers and Tiwary.
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