Challengers to meet Lions

Challengers to meet Lions

Kohli stands tall as Bangalore notch 6-wkt win over Delhi to seal second spot

Challengers to meet Lions

It might have been named the home venue for Delhi Daredevils, but it was Virat Kohli who ruled the minds and hearts of its people. 

Thousands flocked the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium to get a glimpse of the superstar, who is enjoying the form of his life, and returned satiated. With yet another gritty knock, underlined by an exemplary drive, he powered Royal Challengers Bangalore to playoffs with a six-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils on Sunday.

 Kohli’s sixth half century of the season (54 n.o off 45 balls) leapfrogged RCB, who at one point were on the brink of elimination, to the second place. They would now be proudly returning to their homeground to take on Gujarat Lions in the first qualifier.

 Be it the fans, majority of whom donned the RCB jersey flaunting his name or the camera which captured his rapid shuffle of moods; Kohli seems to be omnipresent. His unquenchable desire to excel and an uncompromising passion to defy the odds has rubbed on his team too. The Bengaluru players, who had received much flak for their fielding, were diving to take spectacular catches. The chants of RCB and Kohli reverberated throughout.

In the do-or-die contest, Daredevils, with the exception of Quinton De Kock (60), crumbled against the galvanised bowling effort of RCB to muster a mere 138/8 in 20 overs. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-32) and Chris Gayle (2-11) emerged best bowlers for the visitors. Daredevils, though, were not to back out without a fight but Kohli, constantly fist pumping, goaded RCB to seal the chase with 11 balls remaining, their better net runrate earning them the second spot after three teams had finished with 16 points.

 The power of RCB batting had appeared diminished when Gayle and AB De Villers were back in the hut by the third over. Chris Morris, returning from a niggle, bowled Gayle, who dragged the ball onto his stumps, while De Villiers, taken aback by the awkward bounce, holed out to extra cover off Zaheer Khan.

Kohli, however, continued with roachlike endurance. With KL Rahul picking up quick runs, the equation soon became a run-a- -ball affair. The two gleaned 66 runs off 45 balls for the third wicket, and RCB were cruising towards the finish line. But Carlos Brathwaite, introduced in the 11th over, separated the two when his full delivery on the off was defended by Rahul, but the ball bounced off the pitch to hit the off-stump. Kohli banged his bat in frustration.  Shane Watson didn’t last long but Kohli, who raised his 50 in the 17th over, finished the pursuit with Stuart Binny. As he took the winning run, he sprinted with his hands outstretched with an air of a victorious man, relieved in accomplishing a tough target.

 Daredevils, who has had a better season compared to the last two editions, failed to string partnerships after they were asked to bat. De Kock was the sole binding force in the Daredevils innings once they lost opener Rishabh Pant and Karun Nair in the first six overs. Nair’s straight loft off Chahal was brilliantly pouched by Kohli, who sprinted backward all the way from mid-off with an unswerving eye on the ball.

Thereafter, things meandered aimlessly for the Daredevils whose batsmen were guilty of gifting away their wickets. Chahal returned to remove Sanju Samson and Gayle soon joined the party by inflicting twin blows in the 15th over by removing Pawan Negi and Brathwaite. 

De Kock’s vigilance gave away in the 17th over when his flat-hit off Chahal found Chris Jordan at long-off. Morris and Jayant Yadav rustled up 31 runs for the eighth-wicket but Daredevils needed more. Worst, they ran into the iron will of Kohli. 

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