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Royal Challengers Bangalore defended their 106 runs easily in the eight-over tie © IANS

By Jaideep Vaidya
 
Bangalore: May 19, 2013
 
Bouyed by skipper Virat Kohli‘s quickfire half-century (56 not out off 29 balls) and a four-wicket haul by Zaheer Khan later on, Royal Challengers Bangalore kept their chances to make the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs alive as they cruised to a 24-run win in a rain-curtailed eight-over match against the Chennai Super Kings.

However, CSK did enough to ensure top spot in the points table on net run-rate, while RCB will have to wait for the result of Sunday’s match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders to see if they have made it to the top four.
 
The match began a drenching three hours after the scheduled start, at 11 pm local time, after incessant rains. But the RCB batsmen rewarded the thousands who had braved the weather by providing a cameo-ish, but entertaining 40 minutes of slam-bang batting.

You could say the situation was tailor-made for RCB, whose USP is their top-order. An eight-over innings was the perfect formula for them to give themselves the best chance of putting up a good total, after MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to put the hosts in.

Kohli opened the batting along with Chris Gayle. The gangly Jamaican took three balls to settle in, before swinging hard at Chris Morris’s widish delivery that took the bottom edge of the bat but still managed to bounce on the rope at extra-cover.

Kohli took a few more deliveries than his West Indian partner, judging the bounce and turn that Ravichandran Ashwin was getting, before launching into the off-spinner, hitting two boundaries and a six in the third over.
 
It was just the impetus Kohli needed as he targeted Morris in the next over, smashing him straight down the ground for four before getting a flat six through over long-off. Gayle, who hadn’t gotten much of the strike in the first four overs, and screamed out that he’s there too as he carted his Caribbean neighbour Jason Holder for three consecutive maximums over deep mid-wicket.
 
It took another West Indian to stop Gayle as Dwayne Bravo got the former to slash at a wide one straight to extra-cover. One-down batsman AB de Villiers then hit a boundary through the covers, before succumbing to Mohit Sharma’s slower ball soon after.

However, Moises Henriques stuck around with his skipper and helped give their team’s bowling plenty of runs to defend.
 
Playing just his second game in the tournament after a long injury layoff, Zaheer Khan struck twice in two balls in his first over itself as he removed the dangerous Michael Hussey (6) and Suresh Raina (0).
 
Hussey, the second-highest run-scorer this season, had begun brightly by pulling Ravi Rampaul for four off the first ball of the chase. But the veteran Australian batsman could only find the outside edge to Zaheer’s swinging delivery as wicketkeeper Lokesh Rahul leaped to his left to take a fine catch.
 
Raina’s dismissal the following delivery was much softer, as he went to loft Zaheer straight down the ground but couldn’t connect and holed out to Vinay Kumar running back from mid-off. At 11 for two in the first two overs, RCB had the initiative.
 
Murali Vijay and Dwayne Bravo, under tremendous pressure, failed to connect bat with ball for the next two overs before the latter holed out to third-man to make it 29 for three. With 79 require off the last 24 balls, it seemed all but out of Chennai’s grasps as Dhoni walked in.
 
CSK played out another quiet over bowled by Jaydev Unadkat, before targeting their bunny, RP Singh, in the sixth over, that went for 19 runs including two massive sixes from Vijay’s blade and a boundary from the skipper. The equation was reduced to 52 off the last 12, still a humongous ask.
 
Vijay fell in the next over, getting a leading edge after going for a flick off the hips that was picked up by Gayle at short third-man after running in from point. Dhoni tried his best to single-handedly force a miracle, hitting two boundaries and as many sixes, before eventually giving deep mid-wicket an easy catch and Zaheer his third wicket.

The left-handed pacer was to get yet another wicket off the last ball of the innings after Ravindra Jadeja spanked the ball straight back to him.
 
Brief scores:
 
Royal Challengers Bangalore 106 for 2 in 8 overs (Virat Kohli 56*, Chris Gayle 28; Mohit Sharma 1 for 14) vs Chennai Super Kings 82 for 6 in 8 overs (Murali Vijay 32, MS Dhoni 24; Zaheer Khan 4 for 17) by 24 runs.

Man of the Match: Virat Kohli

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