Virat Kohli played a blistering captain’s knock as his superb little innings enabled Royal Challengers Bangalore to eke out a thrilling six wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad keeping themselves in the race for the play-offs in the IPL. In a rain-curtailed match, RCB were required to score 81 from six overs after Sunrisers scored a competitive 135 for three riding on half-centuries from Moises Henriques (57) and David Warner (52 no).
After mercurial Chris Gayle’s initial blast of 35 from 10 balls, it was super aggressive Kohli, whose unbeaten 44 off 19 balls got them past finishing line as he hit a six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to spark off wild celebrations in the RCB dug-out. RCB are now at second position with 15 points from 13 games while SRH are at fourth place with 14 from 13 games.
Needing 10 off last four deliveries, red- hot Kohli hot a square drive followed by a steer bisected between point and gully before finishing off with a down the ground hit. Chasing a stiff target of 81 from six overs, Gayle started by carting Dale Steyn for a boundary and six off the first two deliveries while skipper Kohli also hit the South African for a boundary as first over yielded 17 runs.
With wet outfield, the ball seemed difficult to grip as Gayle got his second boundary off a leading edge that went one bounce for boundary with hapless bowler being Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Bhuvneshwar was then pulled by the ‘Big Jamaican’ for a boundary. It was followed by a six, four and six as RCB were well on course having pummelled 41 from first two overs.
If Steyn went for 17 in his first over, Bhuvneshwar’s was worse with 24 coming in the form of three boundaries and two sixes — all hit by Gayle. However it was Henriques, who got into the act again as he dismissed Gayle for 35 off 10 balls, caught by Shikhar Dhawan at deep mid-wicket boundary. Henriques wasn’t over yet as he removed AB de Villiers off the very next ball as Steyn took a well judged running catch near boundary line.
Skipper Kohli however, kept RCB in the hunt as his big six off Karn Sharma off the fourth over brought the equation down to 23 off 12 balls. The penultimate over bowled by Praveen Kumar saw him dismiss Mandeep Singh (1) off the first ball with a full toss that was hit straight down at deep square leg. But it was Kohli again, whose pulled six off Praveen got the equation down to 13 from last over which he got for his team. Earlier, Henriques’ brutal assault enabled SunRisers Hyderabad to reach a commanding 135 for three in 11 overs after being put into bat.
By the time, SRH innings ended, heavens again opened up as the groundsmen covered the playing surface. Henriques smashed his way to 57 off only 22 balls with help of five boundaries and four sixes adding 103 runs in only 7.1 overs in the process for the second wicket with skipper David Warner remaining unbeaten on 52 off only 32 balls.
Henriques 20-ball half-century was the second fastest in the tournament. Warner, the current holder of ‘Orange Cap’ played the second fiddle yet scored his 50 off 30 balls. In all the SRH skipper hit five fours and a six.
RCB’s fielding was certainly below par as Henriques lived a charmed ‘life’ as Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan dropping easiest of chances on scores of 26 and 46.
With Powerplay reduced to just three overs, skipper Warner decided to tee off with a tennis shot like boundary back past Harshal Patel for a boundary in the second over of the innings. Shikhar Dhawan (10) was not so lucky as he first dispatched David Wiese for a pulled boundary but was gone trying to repeat the shot and failing to clear the wide mid-on fielder.
Dhawan’s dismissal didn’t deter Warner to hit Wiese down the ground for a boundary and then welcomed Yuzvendra Chahal with a cracking boundary through extra cover region. Chahal’s nightmarish first over continued as Moises Henriques hit him for a six and four off successive deliveries as home team reached 50 off 5 overs.
Henriques was far from over was he punished Ashoke Dinda for his profligacy with another set of boundary and six. On 26, Henriques got a reprieve when Mandeep Singh at long-off made a complete hash off a simple catch off Patel’s bowling conceding a boundary in the process.
As if to add insult to the injury, Henriques steered the next ball for a boundary past Dinesh Karthik to move into 30’s. Henriques was not finished as he then launched into Patel to move into his 40’s but missed out on the fastest half-century. At 46, he offered an easy catch to the burly Sarfaraz Khan at point, who dropped a sitter. The 100 came in the 8th over and there was no looking back for SRH as Warner also got into the act.