Chris Gayle was at his vintage best with a stunning hundred to bring an emphatic end to Bangalore win-less run thanks to a nine-wicket victory over Kolkata at Eden Gardens.
A competent batting effort had seen Kolkata post a competitive total of 171 for five but Gayle’s innings of 101 not out saw the Royal Challengers complete a successful chase for a comprehensive nine-wicket victory.
Gayle had been signed up by Bangalore off the back of his exclusion from the latest West Indian squad and Dirk Nannes’ injury woes, and the left-hander announced himself with a breathtaking knock – including ten fours and seven sixes – against his former team.
Earlier in the day RCB skipper Dan Vettori had won the toss and, as has been the trend in the tournament thus far, elected to bowl first but it was a nightmarish start for Bangalore as Zaheer Khan’s opening over went for 19 runs – including three fours and all of seven wides.
Jacques Kallis, playing against his former employers, was partnered at the top of the order by Brad Haddin in his first appearance for Kolkata and the pair added 44 runs before Haddin (18) was the first to go, succumbing to spinner Syd Mohammad.
Kallis collected a solid 40 – to take his tournament aggregate to 233 runs – before his stinging drive off Vettori was well caught by Gayle in the covers. Skipper Gautam Gambhir maintained the momentum with 48 runs from 38 balls before Yusuf Pathan powered the final throes of the innings as he clubbed three fours and three sixes on his way to 46 runs from just 24 deliveries.
With 171 for five on the board the home side would have been confident of defending their score, but those hopes were to be decimated by Gayle who shared first in a 123-run opening stand with Tillakaratne Dilshan – from just 12 overs – and then a 57-run unbroken partnership with Virat Kohli.
Boundaries came with constant regularity as the West Indian effortlessly deposited the ball all around the ground, reaching his 50 from 29 balls with a six off Pathan. Dilshan – though outscored by his partner – was also belligerent as he collected six fours on his way to 38 from 31 deliveries before being bowled by Lakshi Balaji.
By that stage the game was won but Virat Kohli kept the foot on the accelerator as he smashed his way to 30 from 23 deliveries.
With Bangalore requiring just six runs to win, Kohli hit the first ball of the 18th over for four before blocking out the next five balls to allow Gayle the opportunity to both win the game and seal a magnificent hundred as Bangalore reached their target at the beginning of the 19th over. The 31-year old’s hundred – the third of this year’s competition – came from just 55 deliveries.
The result sees Bangalore pick up their first win in four outings while Kolkata slip further down the IPL after their second successive defeat. Cricket365