Royal Challengers Bangalore started slowly against Gujarat Lions at Bangalore on Saturday. They were 19/1 after 4 overs having lost Chris Gayle early once again. But then came the fireworks courtesy Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. First it was de Villiers to smack the bowling around the park with Kohli playing the supporting act. Later in the inning, at the closing juncture, Kohli took control as AB stood and admired from the non-striker’s end.
De Villiers’ unbeaten 52-ball 129 and Kohli’s 55-ball 109 decimated an increasingly feckless and indisciplined bowling attack; they required just 96 balls to put on a T20 record stand of 229. It was also only the second instance of two batsmen scoring centuries in the same innings in 5703 T20s. As the innings unfolded, a stream of boundaries became a raging river, with 15 fours and 20 sixes sinking the rickety boat on which the Lions bowlers were cowering.
The result was invaluable to Royal Challengers, for a defeat would have all but eliminated them from the playoffs. This margin of victory, however, ensured they stayed in contention and gave them the best net run-rate in the competition.
The onslaught came from nowhere. Brendon McCullum, standing in as Lions captain after Suresh Raina missed his first IPL match in nine years, opted to bowl and his opening bowlers got the side off to an excellent start. Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni bowled with impressive control to tie down Royal Challengers’ openers, with Kulkarni dismissing a scratchy Chris Gayle in the fourth over to reduce Royal Challengers to 19 for 1. Gayle had departed for his fifth single-digit score in as many matches, the innings was going nowhere, and the Lions fielders seemed to be buzzing.
Virat Kohli ended things with 109 from 55 balls and AB de Villiers with 129 from 52 balls. This is the second time two players from same team scored hundreds in a match. Previously, Kevin O’Brien (119) and Hamish Marshall (102) scored two tons in same innings in English County in 2011.
After having scored 81 off their first 11 overs, Royal Challengers smashed 167 off the last nine. In the midst of this whirlwind, Ravindra Jadeja was the only one of seven Lions bowlers to escape with an economy rate of under 10.
The hammering they had received and the enormity of the task before them weighed heavily on Lions’ batsmen in their reply. The early loss of Dwayne Smith set the tone for a limp innings in which wickets fell at regular intervals and the run rate never approached the levels that were required. Chris Jordan and Yuzvendra Chahal made the most of the situation to bag figures of 4 for 11 and 3 for 19 respectively, before Sachin Baby took two in two to put the finishing touches on a royal spanking.