Gayle ton delivers crucial win for Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore 215 for 1 (Gayle 128*, Kohli 73*) beat Delhi Daredevils 194 for 9 (Taylor 55, Zaheer 3-38) by 21 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Royal Challengers Bangalore needed to win at the Kotla, to draw level with Chennai Super Kings on 17 points, to move one ahead of Kings XI Punjab, and to pull further away from Rajasthan Royals, their closest competitors. Defeat against league leaders Delhi Daredevils, who had already secured a playoff spot, would have been debilitating to their campaign. So the time and place Chris Gayle chose to score his season's first century - 128 off 62 balls with 13 sixes - was perfect. He and Virat Kohli took 204 runs, the second best Twenty20 partnership, off a Morne Morkel-less attack to lead Royal Challengers to the highest total of 2012, one that was ultimately a match-winning one.
In the end, Royal Challengers were glad Gayle and Kohli gave them 215, because their profligate bowlers needed that many. Daredevils were without Virender Sehwag, who was unwell, but their batsmen were aggressive from the outset and sustained the attack for a considerable period. Several batsmen made small but explosive contributions but it was Ross Taylor, the one Daredevils wanted desperately to find form, who led the chase. His 55, scored at a strike-rate 211, kept the home side abreast with the asking-rate. Taylor, however, was dismissed in the 17th over. Gayle had stayed for all 20, and that made the difference.
Believe it or not, Gayle had started slowly. He played out a maiden against Umesh Yadav, was scoreless for eight consecutive balls, and was one off nine deliveries. He let Kohli provide the initial propulsion after Tillakaratne Dilshan fell early. Royal Challengers were only 42 for 1 after six overs, when the fielding restrictions were lifted. Gayle had hit no sixes by then. At the end of the ninth over, both Gayle and Kohli were on 27, off 25 and 23 balls respectively. Kohli had been far more fluent than his partner, with his flicks through midwicket and drives off the back foot. Gayle was biding his time.
In the 13th over Gayle decided it was time, heaving left-arm spinner Pawan Negi over the midwicket boundary before driving to long-off, where Yadav mis-fielded and allowed the four. Yadav and Daredevils' fielding wasn't as sharp as it had been against Kings XI Punjab.
Thereafter, there was no respite. Gayle passed 50 off his 37th delivery and began to score through sixes. He hit three in the 14th over, from Irfan Pathan. The first just cleared long-off, where Negi leaped on the boundary but parried the ball over; the next two, off a long-hop and a full toss, went more than 100 metres over the leg side. Gayle hit three more, in a row this time, in the 16th over from Negi. While his favoured region was down the ground and over midwicket, Gayle also sliced Yadav and Varun Aaron over the point boundary. He got to his century, his third in the IPL, off 53 deliveries.
Kohli was no slouch either, finishing with 73 off 53 balls. He had provided the initial thrust and raised the run-rate while Gayle settled in. He hit only one six, though, and eventually the show was only about Gayle.
Faced with an asking-rate of over 10 from the start, Daredevils approached the chase in top gear. At the end of the 11th over, they were 105 for 3; Royal Challengers had been 83 for 1. Freed of pressure and with only one obvious way to play, Taylor slog-swept with abandon and made clean connection more often than not. He brought up his half-century, off 22 deliveries, by blitzing Muttiah Muralitharan over deep midwicket.
The shot of the day, however, came from Andre Russell. He was facing his first delivery of the season, and Zaheer Khan had just bowled three tight deliveries in the 16th over before dismissing Naman Ojha with the fourth. The fifth crashed into the second tier behind the bowler's head, more than 100 metres from the centre. Russell even held his front-foot pose with a straight bat for the cameras.
Daredevils then needed 58 off 24 balls but Taylor was dismissed soon after, holing out to deep midwicket. And with runs coming from only Russell's end, Daredevils quickly fell behind the asking-rate, never to recover.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo