Skipper Virat Kohli’s magnificent batting and short but incisive spell from Zaheer Khan kept Royal Challengers Bangalore in contention for pay-off berth as they easily beat Chennai Super Kings by 24 runs in their final league game of Pepsi Indian Premier league here today.
Courtesy Kohli’s blistering 29-ball-56,RCB posted 106 for two in only eight overs in a match curtailed by rain and then restricted CSK to 82 for six.
RCB finished their league engagements with 18 points and will now hope that KKR turn out to be ‘party poopers’ for Hyderabad Sunrisers which will ensure their passage in play-offs by virtue of better net run-rate.
Zaheer (4/17),playing only his second match since comeback dealt twin blows removing the two in-form men in Mike Hussey (6) and Suresh Raina (0) off successive deliveries.
While Hussey edged one that kicked up from back of the length with glovesman Lokesh Rahul taking a good catch,Raina went for a slog shot only to offer a skier for Rudra Pratap Singh. Two wickets giving away only three runs clinched it decisively in favour of RCB.
The third wicket came in the fourth over when Dwayne Bravo top edged one to Saurabh Tiwary in the deep third man region.
CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in with 78 required off four overs but it wasn’t one of those days when impossible could have been achieved.
Earlier,spectacular hitting by Kohli helped RCB post an imposing target in a shortened game. He led from the front smashing an unbeaten half-century.
Kohli hit six fours and four sixes in his 29-ball knock. He added 67 runs with Chris Gayle (28,13 balls,4×6) for the opening stand.
Promoting himself,Kohli got a boundary with a cover drive off the second delivery bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin,who was otherwise economical.
Gayle got into the act with a slashed six over point off Chris Morris as 11 runs came off the second over.
The RCB skipper showed the way as he launched into Ashwin in the third over. Two short deliveries were carted in the region between mid-wicket and deep mid-wicket and then danced down the track to loft a carrom ball from Ashwin into the long-off stands.
Kohli’s big hits were a treat to watch as smashed Morris straight past for a boundary before finishing off the over with a six over long-off.
Such was Kohli’s aggressive mindset that someone like Gayle was happy taking the single and giving the strike back to his captain.
The big-bodied Jamaican however took over in the fifth over bowled by fellow West Indian Jason Holder as he hit three successive sixes to take the score from 48 to 66. All three were hit in the deep mid-wicket region.
Finally it was Bravo who got rid of Gayle as the opener hit one straight to Mike Hussey at cover as the first wicket fell on 67.