Gayle storm propels RCB to top

Zaheer, Arvind and Vettori strangle Chennai Super Kings with exceptional spells

Gayle storm propels RCB to top

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s S Arvind exults after dismssing Chennai Super Kings’ opener Murali Vijay (not in  picture) in their IPL match at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma RAn extraordinary all-round display, initiated by the discipline and the penetration of the bowling unit and completed by the broadsword of Chris Gayle, catapulted the Challengers to a remarkably untroubled eight-wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings with two overs to spare. The win also ensured them a place in the Champions League T20.

The Challengers’ ninth win of the season also ensured top spot in the final IPL IV league standings, and will give them two definite chances of making it to the May 28 final in Chennai, just the scenario skipper Daniel Vettori and his team would have envisaged going into Sunday’s contest.

‘Contest’ is perhaps a misnomer, because by no means did this appear a battle among equals. The Super Kings, strangely diffident, uncertain and out of sorts, continued to struggle with their form away from home, their batting coming completely apart at the seams in the face of sustained persistence from the Challengers’ strong bowling performance.  The return of Daniel Vettori and Zaheer Khan proved decisive elements in the Super Kings, stuck in, being restricted to a modest 128 for eight. Even that total owed itself almost entirely to the brilliance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni (70 n.o., 40b, 3x4, 6x6), who single-handedly prevented a complete rout with a blazing innings that was put to shade by another spectacular display of pyrotechnics from Gayle.

The Super Kings total was by no means intimidating, but the Challengers were rocked straightaway when the exceptional R Ashwin accounted for new opener AB de Villiers in the first over. Gayle and Virat Kohli steadied the ship with a stand of 80 (56b), the Jamaican setting ego aside and playing Ashwin with respect but laying into the rest with typically unrestrained gusto.

Gayle snatched the Orange Cap away from Shaun Marsh with his third fifty of the season, his undefeated 75 (50b, 4x4, 6x6) winning him a fifth man of the match award and continuing his golden run in a tournament that he came into almost by default. His fearsome presence forced Dhoni not to employ left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati at all, a wonderful compliment to the ferocity of the West Indian’s ball-striking skills.

Gayle, though, will be the first to acknowledge the phenomenal effort of the bowlers, the experienced duo of skipper Vettori and Zaheer brilliantly complemented by young turk S Arvind in an RCB performance completely dominated by the left-handers.

The Challengers had badly missed Zaheer and Vettori when Adam Gilchrist and Marsh had run amok in Dharamsala. On Sunday, the two wise heads were on top of their games, striking crucial blows and bowling with a purpose and determination that caught the Super Kings unawares.

A strong batting unit was made to look pedestrian as the Challengers struck quickly, and repeatedly. Zaheer began the slide by evicting Mike Hussey in the second over, then accounting for Suresh Raina. Arvind compounded the beleaguered Murali Vijay’s woes and regular crisis-man S Badrinath had a rare off-day so that in six overs, the Super Kings had slumped to 23 for four.

The only stand of substance was pieced together by Dhoni and fellow stumper Wriddiman Saha, who added 42 for the fifth wicket. The skipper began circumspectly, obviously keen on targeting the fifth bowler – made up by Gayle and Kohli – and the inexperienced Abhimanyu Mithun.

Dhoni’s assault towards the back-end of the innings was astonishing. Bringing his brute power into play, he picked off Gayle and, more tellingly, Mithun for gigantic sixes. The strong bottom hand and a heavy bat left the young paceman badly bruised as the runs came in a torrent. Dhoni, though, more than met his match in Gayle as the Challengers dared to venture into uncharted territory – to the top of the table at the end of the league phase!

Scoreboard

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: Mike Hussey b Zaheer 4 (7b), Murali Vijay c de Villiers b Arvind 6 (9b, 1x4), Suresh Raina c Kohli b Zaheer 4 (6b, 1x4), S Badrinath c Mithun b Vettori 0 (10b), Wriddhiman Saha c Pomersbach b Kohli 22 (30b, 1x4, 1x6), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (not out) 70 (40b, 3x4, 6x6), Dwayne Bravo lbw Vettori 5 (5b, 1x4), Albie Morkel c Zaheer b Mithun 5 (9b), R Ashwin c Mithun b Arvind 2 (4b), Shadab Jakati (not out) 0 (0b). Extras (LB-4, W-6) 10. Total (for 8 wkts, 20 overs) 128.

Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Hussey), 2-16 (Vijay), 3-17 (Raina), 4-22 (Badrinath), 5-64 (Saha), 6-79 (Bravo), 7-100 (Morkel), 8-110 (Ashwin).

Bowling: Zaheer Khan 4-1-19-2 (w-2), S Arvind 4-0-20-2 (w-2), Daniel Vettori 4-0-15-2, Abhimanyu Mithun 4-0-35-1 (w-1), Chris Gayle 3-0-27-0, Virat Kohli 1-0-8-1 (w-1).
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 17/3; 10: 36/4; 15: 80/5; end of innings: 128/8 in 20 overs.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 23/4.

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE: AB de Villiers st Dhoni b Ashwin 0 (3b), Chris Gayle (not out) 75 (50b, 4x4, 6x6), Virat Kohli c Ashwin b Morkel 31 (29b, 5x4), Saurabh Tiwary (not out) 13 (26b, 1x4). Extras (LB-2, W-8) 10. Total (for 2 wkts, 18 overs) 129.

 Fall of wickets: 1-0 (de Villiers), 2-80 (Kohli).

Bowling: R Ashwin 4-0-18-1, Doug Bollinger 4-0-34-0 (w-1), Dwayne Bravo 4-0-21-0 (w-1), Suresh Raina 4-0-38-0 (w-4), Albie Morkel 2-0-16-1 (w-2).
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 34/1; 10: 80/2; 15: 104/2; end of innings: 129/2 in 18 overs.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 44/1.

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