Royal Challengers Bangalore 186 for 1 (Kohli 75*, de Villiers 59*, Gayle 49) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 183 for 5 (Gambhir 51, Pandey 50) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by ball details
Thirty-two runs, 43 balls, and less than an hour at the crease while batting in a total of eight innings. Those were Chris Gayle's numbers during his lean run since his hundred in West Indies' World T20 opener against England exactly two months ago. On a humid night at Eden Gardens, he struck form against his former franchise to help Royal Challengers Bangalore stay alive in their hunt for a playoff spot, with a nine-wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Gayle had trudged to 1 off seven balls before unleashing the big hits. He started with a swipe over mid-on for four in the second over, and treated the short balls thereafter with disdain. The upper cut, the inside-out drive and even the fierce sweep off Sunil Narine, something he's not always known for, followed as he raced to 35 off 21. Amid the carnage, Kohli exhibited one classical inside-out drive for six that showed the Royal Challengers party was on at both ends, and only 11 people at the packed ground were not dancing to the music.
Gayle was trapped lbw by Narine after he struck two more sixes, but that brought together Kohli and de Villiers. They were watchful at times but picked up boundaries regularly. While de Villiers targeted Ankit Rajpoot and Shakib Al Hasan, who was repeatedly swept into the stands at deep square leg, Kohli went after Andre Russell and Piyush Chawla.
Kohli, on 32, offered a rare chance off Shakib but Gautam Gambhir put it down at backward point in the 11th over, with Royal Challengers needing 90 off 56. But after two boundary-less overs against Shakib and Chawla, Kohli and de Villiers put their seat belts on. Kohli picked the wrong'uns, de Villiers used the crease against the three spinners, and sixes were struck on demand. Soon the equation read 40 from 24. And even though Gambhir changed his bowlers around, the result remained unaffected.
Kohli sauntered to his eighth fifty-plus score of the tournament and de Villiers, the more attacking of the two, registered his 28-ball half-century as the duo ran down the target with eight balls to spare. Their unbeaten stand read 115 runs from 11.1 overs at a scoring rate of 10.29. Along the way, Kohli surpassed Chris Gayle and Michael Hussey's tally of 733 runs to become the highest run-scorer in an IPL season.
Unlike the chase, Knight Riders' journey to 183 had been a bumpy ride, led first by the top order and then the lower order. Iqbal Abdulla, who replaced Varun Aaron in RCB's XI, took a one-handed catch to dismiss Robin Uthappa in the third over. Gambhir and Manish Pandey didn't look perturbed though. While the captain relied more on nudges, Pandey's big swings towards the midwicket region kept the fielders busy, as Knight Riders passed fifty at the end of the Powerplay.
Just when Knight Riders had begun hitting harder, Royal Challengers took three wickets in 10 balls. Gambhir and Pandey fell after making fifties to allow Abdulla and Yuzvendra Chahal to slow the scoring further. Yusuf Pathan, who had made an unbeaten 29-ball 60 in a match-winning effort when the sides last met in Bangalore, was deceived in flight and stumped for 6, while Suryakumar Yadav holed out to long-off. Knight Riders stumbled to 125 for 5.
The momentum switched sides again when Russell and Shakib got together. Shakib used leg-side swipes and Russell unfurled commanding swings from deep in the crease to collect boundaries. Even though Shakib raced to 12 off his first four deliveries, he later took singles to give the strike to Russell, who targeted the quicks to score 39 off 19.