Royal Challengers Bangalore would have wanted to test themselves early in the tournament, to find out how good they are in a tense situation when their talisman Chris Gayle falls early in a competitive chase. The occasion presented itself on Tuesday against the in-form Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and Bangalore found out that even though Gayle is their go-to man for most situations, they can win even without him contributing. The assurance came via a superlative effort from the captain Virat Kohli, who single-handedly lifted his team to a win.
Kohli showed a lot of maturity in the way he went about his match-winning knock. Bangalore had lost Gayle and the other opener Mayank Agarwal in quick succession after a sedate start. The need of the hour was for Bangalore to build a partnership, and that was exactly what Kohli did in the company of the experienced AB de Villiers as the hosts went about rebuilding their innings. Kohli wasn’t exactly cautious even at the beginning of the innings, but saw to it that he did not play any loose stroke, which would have put his side in trouble.
Once he got his eye in, Kohli demonstrated how destructive a player in can be in this format of the game. Some of the shots he played in the latter half of the innings were simply superb. The fact that he charged spinners as well as the seamers showed the amount of confidence he had in himself to take on the bowlers. Crucially, he did not mistime any of his huge hits, which was an indication of the breathtaking form he was in. The grandness of Kohli’s knock can be gauged from the fact that de Villiers contributed only 15 from 15 balls in the 49-run stand he shared with his captain. Even more amazingly, Moises Henriques made on seven in an unbeaten stand of 62 with his skipper.
At the halfway stage, Sunrisers would have believed that they had a decent chance of winning if they got Gayle, which they actually did. However, they were also left to rue the fact that they did not score a lot of runs in the first half of their innings while batting first. The top three batsmen all got starts, but their failure to accelerate the scoring meant that the Bangalore bowlers were never under pressure. RP Singh was particularly impressive picking up three wickets while Muralitharan once again did a commendable job by keeping the runs down.
Credit must be given to Thisara Perera and Cameron White for their wonderful counterattack in the last 10 overs, which allowed the Sunrisers to recover to quite an extent, and put a competitive score on board. The big-hitting ability of both the batsmen came to the fore as the duo smashed seven sixes among themselves. It looked as if their partnership would result in another close encounter. Kohli had other ideas.
Turning point of the game:With five overs to go, the Sunrisers were still in with a decent chance as Bangalore needed 45 from 30 balls. But, Kohli smashed Amit Mishra for two sixes and a four to seal the deal.
--By A Cricket Analyst