In a nutshell, Gujarat Lions spoiled Virat Kohli’s party on Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday.
Either way, the sell-out crowd at the Saurashtra Cricket Association here on a furiously hot Sunday got what it wanted: a Kohli special coupled with a win for the home side.
Kohli conjured up an imperious hundred, his first in 193 Twenty20 appearances, but Gujarat Lions batsmen enhanced their chasing credentials with yet another composed display to put it past Royal Challengers Bangalore. That the six-wicket win — achieved with three deliveries to spare — came without any help from Aaron Finch, made it all the more special for Suresh Raina & Co.
Kohli batted just like he has been for many months now. His knock was studded with an array of boundaries, a large majority of them front of square, and off textbook shots.
Keeping Kohli (100 n.o., 63b, 11x4, 1x6) company for nearly 13 overs of the innings was K.L. Rahul, who helped himself to an unbeaten 51 off 35 balls (4x4, 3x6). Their partnership, worth 121 runs, propelled Bangalore to 180 for two after Kohli chose to bat on a bald pitch.
The Gujarat outfit was thrilled after Dhawal Kulkarni removed Shane Watson for just six in the second over. A.B. de Villiers was unusually quiet during his 20-run knock (16b, 2x4) before a sharp catch from Raina in the circle sent him packing.
Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum added 47 runs in quick time to put Gujarat firmly on track. Smith walked out in place of Finch who went off the field in the 17th over of the RCB innings. It so happened that the Aussie’s services weren’t required.
McCullum took some time initially but accelerated the moment Smith fell in the sixth over. The New Zealander smashed Kane Richardson for 6, 4, 6 and 4 in the same over as Gujarat collected 72 runs in the PowerPlay. The five wides Richardson conceded took his tally to 25 in that forgettable over and earned him horrific figures of 4-0-53-1.
Kohli, who threw the new ball to leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, had his South African import and chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi to thank for keeping Gujarat quiet in the middle overs. Shamsi had McCullum caught and bowled for 42 (24b, 5x4, 2x6) in the ninth over.
Thereon, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik batted so timidly that the equation came down to 45 off the last five overs.
The 53-run stand between Raina and Karthik was workmanlike more than anything. Raina perished in the deep for 28 (24b, 3x4), leaving Karthik and Ravindra Jadeja to do the rest.
Jadeja (12, 10b, 1x6) slog-swept Iqbal Abdulla for the longest six of the day and, thankfully, his departure in the last over didn’t hurt Gujarat much.
Karthik, who collected a whopping 11 doubles, hit two of his three boundaries in the penultimate over bowled by Abdulla.
The home side required 21 off 12 balls when Karthik executed a cute scoop over short fine-leg before a beautiful drive beat de Villiers at long-on.
Watson had only six runs to defend in the final over. Following a no-ball, a wide and Jadeja’s dismissal, Dwayne Bravo smacked him straight down to ground to seal the issue.
The champion dance followed and Kohli’s day was well and truly ruined.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (not out) 100 (63b, 11x4, 1x6), Shane Watson c Jadeja b Kulkarni 6 (6b, 1x4), A.B. de Villiers c Raina b Tambe 20 (16b, 2x4), K.L. Rahul (not out) 51 (35b, 4x4, 3x6); Extras (b-1, w-2): 3; Total (for two wkts. in 20 overs): 180.
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Watson), 2-59 (de Villiers).
Gujarat Lions bowling: Praveen Kumar 3-0-28-0, Dhawal Kulkarni 4-0-39-1, Pravin Tambe 3-0-24-1, Shadab Jakati 3-0-28-0, Ravindra Jadeja 3-0-17-0, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-43-0.
Gujarat Lions: Dwayne Smith c de Villiers b Richardson 32 (21b, 3x4, 2x6), Brendon McCullum c & b Shamsi 42 (24b, 5x4, 2x6), Suresh Raina c Abdulla b Chahal 28 (24b, 3x4), Dinesh Karthik (not out) 50 (39b, 3x4), Ravindra Jadeja c Rahul b Watson 12 (10b, 1x6), Dwayne Bravo (not out) 4 (1b, 1x4); Extras (lb-3, w-9, nb-2): 14; Total (for four wkts. in 19.3 overs): 182.
Fall of wickets: 1-47 (Smith), 2-87 (McCullum), 3-140 (Raina), 4-178 (Jadeja).
Royal Challengers bowling: Yuzvendra Chahal 4-0-33-1, Kane Richardson 4-0-53-1, Iqbal Abdulla 4-0-41-0, Shane Watson 3.3-0-31-1, Tabraiz Shamsi 4-0-21-1.
Toss: Royal Challengers.
Man-of-the-Match: Virat Kohli.
Gujarat Lions won by six wickets with three deliveries to spare.