Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle smashed a solid 46 to help the Royal Challengers Bangalore defeat the Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in Ranchi, which kept their hopes of reaching the playoffs alive.
Chennai batsman Suresh Raina deserves some credit as well as he scored an entertaining half-century.
Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have been regretting his decision to bat first after New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum was caught by Mitchell Starc at midwicket off the bowling of Varun Aaron for 19.
Aaron struck again just two balls later when Dwayne Smith was caught by AB de Villiers for just nine runs.
Raina and David Hussey stabilised the innings with a 75-run partnership before Hussey was caught by Starc off the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan for 25.
Dhoni only made seven runs before he was caught by Gayle at point off the bowling of Abu Nechim.
Raina ended up making 62 off 48 balls, which included six boundaries and a six, as Chennai finished on 138/4 off their 20 overs.
Aaron was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Nechim and Muralitharan chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 139 to win, Bangalore got off to a poor start as opening batsman Parthiv Patel was caught by Raina at first slip off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin for 10.
Gayle and Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli made up for the early loss of Patel with a 61-run partnership before Kohli was stumped by Dhoni off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja for 27.
Gayle went on to score 46 off 50 balls, which included three boundaries and three sixes, before he was clean bowled by Ashwin.
De Villiers made a quickfire 28 before he was caught by Jadeja off the bowling of Hussey.
Sachin Rana only made one run before he was caught by McCullum at short midwicket off the bowling of Hussey.
Despite the late flurry of wickets, Bangalore managed to cross the finish line and register a vital five-wicket win.
Ashwin and Hussey took two wickets each, while Jadeja snapped up one.
Dhoni was disappointed with the loss, and said: “[We] Knew the pitch would slow down further, the spinners did maintain the pressure and that’s one of the reasons why the game went close. [Is a pattern developing with such close losses so close to the playoffs] Not really, the best thing about stats is we can have a pattern and it changes. It’s something the commentators can talk about and they have to talk about something. At the end of the day, catches win matches and you don’t drop big players. It’s not the first time we’ve made that mistake. It may be your home venue but the team that wins plays better cricket. They bowled very well, especially in the last four overs. We lost five to 10 runs, if not more.”
Kohli was ecstatic with his team’s performance, and said: “They’ve gone already. Great win for us, especially after the wicket played in the second innings. Today was a great example of the character in the side. You have Gayle hitting out there, then AB and Yuvi in such form, you back your team. It was about rotating stirke as much as possible and hitting with the turn and not trying something fancy because with the old ball, it wasn’t turning as much so you can stay on the back foot and work it away. No message, Yuvi told me he wanted Nechim to get a single, but he just stepped out and slammed the ball for six. That’s the belief players have now.”
De Villiers was named Man of the Match, and said: “Probably one of the most difficult wickets that I played on. Surprised, I thought I was going to get one of these interesting awards and Abu was going to get Man of the Match. I got some of the balls away. I looked foolish a couple of times and took it to the end. I was disappointed to get out at the time, but Yuvi did it for us in the end.”