Chris Gayle returned to form as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) continued their rampaging run with an eight-wicket win over defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Thursday.
Pacer RP Singh claimed his second straight three-wicket haul to restrict KKR for 154, before Gayle kicked up a storm, making the run chase look ridiculously simple.
The Jamaican big-hitter regained his magical touch after two poor outings, as he clobbered nine sixes and four fours in an unbeaten 85 that helped RCB home with nearly 15 balls to spare.
RCB were in for some jittery moments when they lost opener Mayank Agarwal in the very third over with the score reading 1-12. But their mission gained momentum when skipper Virat Kohli joined Gayle in the middle as they entertained a large holiday crowd with some sparkling strokes. The second wicket pair added 63 runs off 41 balls as RCB raced to 75 for 2.
Kohli scored 35 runs off 27 deliveries before he was snapped at the cover boundary by Eoin Morgan off Laxmipathy Balaji. His dismissal was followed by an ugly spat with his counterpart Gautam Gambhir.
As tempers flared, the umpires and KKR players intervened to separate the two. Once Kohli departed, it was left to AB de Villiers (22) and Gayle to complete the rout.
Earlier, put into bat, KKR rode on Gambhir’s 46-ball 59 to overcome a poor start before RP Singh cleaned up the middle order. KKR were staring at trouble when they lost opener Manvinder Bisla in the very first over.
However, it was Gambhir’s three partnerships — 51 with Jacques Kallis, 41 with Yusuf Pathan and 29 with Manoj Tiwary — that took the team to a respectable, if not a formidable total.
RCB pacer Moises Henriques, too, had an eventful day, claiming wickets of Manvinder Bisla (1), Yusuf Pathan (27) and a catch of struggling Kallis. RP Singh claimed the wickets of Tiwary (23), Eoin Morgan (2) and Rajat Bhatia (13).
The UP bowler also accounted for a run out of Ryan McLaren. Singh picked up the ball on his follow through and threw down the stumps to leave McLaren short of his ground. Fellow pacer R Vinay Kumar too chipped in with two wickets.