Bengaluru: Captain Virat Kohli smashed his second century of the season in a magnificent batting display to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore to a thrilling seven-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiants in an IPL match on Sunday.
Kohli struck an unbeaten 108 off just 58 balls with the help of eight fours and seven sixes in a display of batting pyrotechnics at the Chinnaswamy Stadium as Bangalore chased down the challenging target of 192 with three balls to spare to notch up their third win in eight matches.
The RCB skipper entered into record books as he became the only batsman to score two tons in a single IPL season. He also joined the likes of Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, David Warner, AB de Villiers, Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag to hit two IPL centuries overall. The most number of IPL tons - five - though still belongs to Chris Gayle.
Kohli’s ton also overshadowed an amazing late assault of 13-ball 36 that included five fours and two sixes by Shane Watson which suddenly tilted the balance of the match in favour of Bangalore after it was poised evenly a couple of overs after the halfway stage.
Bangalore took 39 runs off two overs - 20 from 14th over bowled by Thisara Perera and 19 from the 15th bowled by Rajat Bhatia. Watson smashed a hapless Perera for five fours in a scintillating show of strokemaking. He then hit Bhatia for two sixes as the bowler bled 19 runs.
Kohli then took over as he smashed two sixes and a four off Adam Zampa in the 18th over and two sixes off RP Singh in the 19th over to steal 18 runs from each of the two overs. He hit Ashok Dinda for a four to finish off the match, as Bangalore reached 195 for three in 19.3 overs.
The match also witnessed Pune captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni introducing off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin only in the 17th over and he was not used after that.
Bangalore, however, made a sedate start in their run chase but soon found the boundaries with Kohli hitting two sixes off RP Singh in the fourth over to set the tempo.
By the end of powerplay overs, Bangalore were placed at a decent 46 for no loss with both Kohli and Lokesh Rahul (38) going strong. Runs kept on coming with Kohli and Rahul getting the boundaries and the home side reached 81 for no loss at the halfway mark.
Frenzied fans of RCB were finally relieved after their team could end their losing streak at home. With only three wins, including one over Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 12 here and RPS on April 22 at Pune, RCB are languishing at the seventh position in the eight-team IPL table with six points. RCB have lost five of the eight games they have played so far.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash against RPS, Bangalore fans were on the verge of losing patience with the team and were desperately hoping that the hosts will not disappoint them again.
“I am a great fan of RCB as it is led by in-form Indian Test captain Virat Kohli and has big hitters like Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers who entertain us with glorious shots. After a promising start in the first game on the home turf, the team has let its fans own, losing last two games here and three away,” lamented Murali Krishna, 43, a marketing executive with an Indian multinational.
The fans were also upset with explosive West Indies opener Chris Gayle for failing to score big this time and treat them to his trademark shots as in the past. In the earlier IPL editions, Gayle had demoralised bowlers of all teams with mighty sixes and lofty fours all over the ground, especially on home turf.
According to cricket statistician H.R. Gopala Krishna, the Jamaican southpaw had hit a record 135 sixes in all the T20 games he played in 2015, including IPL-8 and is the only batsman to have scored 1,000 runs in the last five calendar years from 2010-15, a feat unparalleled in the game’s shortest format.