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IPL's game 67 featuring the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils turned out to be the text-book definition of T20 entertainment. The boisterous fans at the historic Feroz Shah Kotla got their monies worth as they were privileged to witness over 400 runs being scored. The star of the show was the Jamaican hulkster, Christopher 'Unstoppable' Gayle, who pummeled an incredible 62-ball 128* etched with 7 fours and a whopping 13 maximums. Following a circumspect beginning, the Gayle storm tore the Daredevils to shreds. He was ably supported by his captain, Virat Kohli who made an unbeaten 73. Their entertaining 204 run alliance turbo powered the Men in red to a humongous 215-1. Later in the evening, the Daredevils showed some stomach for a fight and made a fist of a tough challenge, posting 194-9. Ross Taylor, finally striking form toyed with the bowlers en route to a Gayle-like 26 ball 55. Zaheer Khan (3-38) and Vinay Kumar (2-35) proved their mettle in the death to enable RCB to take giant strides towards the Play-offs.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore, finding themselves on the brink of elimination after generously snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Mumbai, collided with the Delhi Daredevils in a do or die fixture at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The Daredevils, the first team to secure a Play-offs berth were hoping to reinforce their position at the top that would grant them a second chance of making the grand finale should they slip up in the first.
Surprisingly, Mahela Jayawardene walked out to the toss donning the captain's hat and said that Virender Sehwag was unfit for the game. Unmukt Chand, the India Under 19 skipper was called up to replace Viru. West Indian all-rounder, Andre Russell also got a look in as the Delhi think-tank decided to give Morne Morkel a break. Bangalore made the lone change with Prashanth Parameshwaran coming in for KP Appanna.The flip of the coin went Delhi's way and Mahela elected to field on a pitch that promised some assistance for the pacers.
Tillakaratne Dilshan got the Royal Challengers quickly off the blocks with two sparkling straight drives off Irfan Pathan. Umesh Yadav, steaming in, swung the ball impressively and delivered a rare maiden over first up to Chris Gayle. His compatriot Varun Aaron, benefiting from the maiden over, found Dilshan's leading edge that was grasped easily by Irfan stationed at mid-on. However, Gayle and captain Virat Kohli restored some order via a flurry of fours with the pick of them being Virat's wristy flick through square leg. Kohli's timing was nothing short of impeccable. RCB had made 42 runs for the loss of Dilshan (10) in 6 overs.
Soon, Gayle planted fellow West Indian, Russell into the stands to light up the first six of the evening. The pair continued to accumulate runs at a brisk pace and the Morkel-less Delhi bowling had an air of vulnerability about it. Delhi's insipid fielding too came under the scanner. Mahela's move to introduce occasional offie, Venugopal Rao into the attack immediately after the time-out backfired as he leaked 13 runs.
The orange cap holder then targeted Pawan Negi, biffing a 106 meters six and brutal straight drive. Gayle notched up his fifty off 36 balls. Gayle ran rampant, smashing sixes at will. He beheaded Pathan in the 14th over whipping him for four biggies. Meanwhile, Kohli was quite happy to rotate the strike and let Gayle rule his hometown. The awesome twosome ushered in their third 100 run stand of this season. At 137-1 in 15 overs with Gayle and Kohli on cruise control, Bangalore were eyeing a 200 plus total.
Like an accomplished stuntman doing his fight scenes, the West Indian sky-bomber kept dealing in sixes. Chris Gayle celebrated his ton by punching the air in delight. The landmark came off just 53 balls. It was that kind of a day in which Gayle could demolish the bowlers even if he was blindfolded! As expected Kohli also cut loose after reaching his fifty. Kohli inaugurated the 200 mark in the penultimate over of the innings, albeit aided by Chand's dropped catch at long on. Records tumbled as RCB finished at a monstrous 215-1, the highest total of this year's IPL. The uninhibited Gayle and the elegant Kohli plundered 78 runs from the last 5 overs.
In response to Bangalore's massive total, Delhi's equivalent to Gayle, David Warner(15) made a rapid start. The Aussie welcomed the Zak attack into the middle with a ferocious six over extra-cover. However, veteran Zaheer cut short Warner's mini-honeymoon the very next ball. Warner's wild slog failed miserably as the back-pedalling Vinay Kumar completed a sharp catch. Unmukht Chand(18), regarded as the next Kohli helped himself to a couple of fours and a half-a-dozen before he fell to million dollar man, Vinay Kumar. Mahela and Venugopal Rao took Delhi to 51-2 at the conclusion of the powerplay, a good start under normal circumstances, but not enough when chasing 216.
A couple of overs later, Parameshwaran struck with his first ball to have the big fish, Mahela caught behind for an ultra-slow 9. The woefully out of form Ross Taylor joined forces with the Andhra Pradesh batsman, who seemed to be in fine touch.
Rao(36) just about managed to find the odd four an over apart from working the ball into the open spaces. The Kiwi batsman though got into his element quickly by slapping Muralitharan for a six over mid-wicket. Taylor vented his aggression and swatted a few fours that boosted his confidence. He employed the sweep shot to productive effect against the spin wizard. Unfortunately for the table-leaders, Rao's enterprising knock folded up in the 12th over when Harshal Patel plucked a brilliant running catch.
Taylor came into his own and his love affair with the mid-wicket boundary blossomed. The 27 year old signaled his whirlwind fifty off only 22 deliveries with a maximum. DD were battling hard at 149-4 in 15 overs.
Moments later, the returning Zaheer Khan got rid of Naman Ojha for 13. The following over his protege, Vinay Kumar showed why he was worth a million dollars by causing the dangerous Taylor(55) to hole out in the deep.
Zaheer armed with a wealth of experience consumed Pathan for 4 in his final over to knock the wind out of Delhi's sails. RCB's pace ace capped off the match with figures of 3-38. Even though Andre Russell played a gem of a cameo, hammering 31 at a strike rate over 200, Bangalore's tall total proved to too hot for the Daredevils.
The Royal Challengers, energized by this crucial victory will fancy their chances to beat the basement dwelling Deccan Chargers on Sunday to confirm their play-offs spot. The Daredevils meanwhile will have their eyes set on pipping the perseverance personified Punjab side at Dharamshala on Saturday in order to ensure a top two finish.
DD: D Warner, U Chand,N Ojha, M Jayawardene, R Taylor, I Pathan, V Rao, A Russell, P Negi, U Yadav, V Aaron
RCB: T Dilshan, C Gayle, V Kohli, S Tiwary, AB de Villiers, M Aggarwal, R Vinay Kumar, Z Khan, H Patel, P Parameswaran, M Muralitharan
RCB: 215-1 (20 overs, 10.75 rpo)
C Gayle 128*(62) V Aaron 1-38
V Kohli 73*(53)
DD: 194-9 (20 overs, 9.70 rpo)
R Taylor 55(26) Z Khan 3-38
V Rao 36(24) P Parameshwaran 2-30
RCB won by 21 runs
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