Challengers earn a lifeline

Hosts post 24-run over Super Kings in a rain-curtailed tie to stay in play-off hunt

Challengers earn a lifeline

 At 10.30 pm on Saturday night, legions of Royal Challengers Bangalore fans conveyed their delight through a collective roar as the giant screen flashed an 11 pm start to the game after a prolonged delay due to rain.

They didn’t mind it one bit that it would be an eight-overs-a-side affair, and in fact, the Royal Challengers players too wouldn’t have cared about the length of the match. All they needed was a match to happen -- in this instance against the Chennai Super Kings -- as it was their best shot at keeping their chances to enter the knockout stage of IPL VI alive.

They achieved that target with some degree of comfort, defeating Super Kings by 24 runs. The home side made 106 for two in eight overs after put into bat, and then restricted the two-time champions to 82 for six.

Royal Challengers now have 18 points after the completion of their league engagements (16 matches), and will have to spend some anxious hours waiting for the result of the match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.

Sunrisers too have 18 points, and if the Hyderabad team fails against Knight Riders, RCB will go through to the knockout phase by virtue of their superior net run-rate.

But Royal Challengers have bought themselves some time, and the genesis of them entering that relative comfort zone was in their audacious batting, led by skipper Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle. Kohli, in particular, was in superb touch, playing shots all around the park with elan.

Smashing knock

Kohli, who smashed a 29-ball 56, began the run glut, smashing R Ashwin for two fours and a six in the third over of the innings as the offie leaked 16 runs in that over.

There never was a moment of respite for the Chennai side since that point as Gayle too joined the fun in his inimitable way.

The left-handed West Indian targeted Jason Holder, clobbering the 21-year-old Barbadian pacer for three sixes in a row in the fifth over as Royal Challengers went ahead like a gleaming, turbocharged machine.

Kohli has a bit of fortune too as Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni dropped him at 34 off Dwayne Bravo, and the Delhi lad cashed in on the reprieve adding 24 precious runs more to his score. Once Gayle seemed to have slipped into his zone, the Jamaican’s effort to clear the ring ended in the hands of Mike Hussey off Bravo. By then, Gayle and Kohli had added 67 runs in 32 balls to give RCB a strong platform.

Henriques cameo

AB de Villiers’s quick dismissal didn’t hamper Royal Challengers much as Moises Henriques (12 off 3 balls) and Kohli powered them to a formidable total. But considering the batting riches in Super Kings’ line-up, RCB needed to produce a tidy effort with the ball, and for once they managed to do that.

Zaheer Khan, who grabbed four wickets for 17 runs, dismissed Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina in successive ball in his first over to deny Chennai early advantage, and thereon it was an uphill climb for the visitors.

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