Cometh the hour, Cometh the man!
After losing to Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore needed to beat Delhi Daredevils to have any chance of making the play-offs. No problem, if you have Chris Gayle in your side. The tall West Indian hit a whirlwind unbeaten century and stitched a record 204-run partnership with skipper Virat Kohli to set up a convincing 21-run win for Bangalore over Delhi here today.
Gayle bludgeoned the hapless Delhi bowlers to all parts of the park. The bowlers looked like headless chicken walking around without a clue as to how to control Gayle.
His 128 off just 62 balls saw the even the partisan Delhi crowd cheering. The Jamaican smashed a record 13 huge sixes, including a 106-metre one off spinner Pawan Negi, and seven boundaries.
Set 216 to chase and without their talismanic skipper, Sehwag, Delhi made a valiant attempt, but to no avail.
Delhi missed the services of Morne Morkel, who was rested, and captain Virender Sehwag, who was unfit for the game.
Ross Taylor with a 26-ball 55 put up some fight, Y Venugopal Rao with 36 runs and Andre Russell with a cameo of 31 from 15 balls delayed the inevitable. But challenge of over 200 proved too much for the Daredevils and they could manage to score only 194 for nine.
Taylor hit two sixes and seven boundaries during his knock, while Russell pummelled three sixes and a boundary, but Bangalore's target was never under threat.
RCB pacers Zaheer Khan (3/38), Prasanth Parameswaran (3/30) and R Vinay Kumar (2/35) shared eight wickets among them.
RCB are now fifth with 17 points and have their last match against Deccan Chargers on May 20. Chennai Super Kings' defeat at the hands of Kings XI Punjab earlier today helped Bangalore's cause as the defending champions stayed on 17 points with no more their league engagements remaining.
Earlier, Gayle hit his first century of the season, smashing an unbeaten 128 to propel Royal Challengers Bangalore to a mammoth 215 for one.
It was a day of records with Gayle becoming the first batsman to score 700 or more runs in a single edition in the history of IPL. The marauding West Indian surpassed Sachin Tendulkar's 618 runs which the Mumbai Indians batsman had scored in 2009-10 while Gayle now has scored 706 runs this season.
Gayle's knock was also the second highest individual score by a batsman in the IPL history, second only to Brendon McCullum's unbeaten 158, which the Kiwi had hit in the inaugural edition in 2008 for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Gayle took some time to settle after RCB were sent in to bat by Mahela Jayawardene, who led Delhi in place of an indisposed Sehwag.
Initially, he took 17 balls for his first 10 runs and then scored the next 90 in just 35 balls. Together with his Kohli (73 not out off 53 balls), he rattled up a 204-run stand, highest for any wicket in the league this season and also the second-highest partnership for any wicket in IPL history.
Kohli too looked in much better touch today as he scored freely and never looked uncomfortable. The youngster faced 53 balls and hit 10 boundaries, including one six.
There was no escape from the Gayle 'storm'. Jayawardene did everything to stop a marauding Gayle but the West Indian was unstoppable as neither the spinners nor the pacers had an answer to the power-hitting of the left-hander.
At the start, Delhi pacers did a good job with Umesh Yadav bowling a fiery maiden over to Gayle and Varun Aaron dismissing Tillakaratne Dilshan (10) with his second ball. Dilshan was looking good with two exquisite straight drives off Irfan Pathan in the opening over but a leading edge that flew to Pathan at mid-on brought about his end.
Kohli hit four elegant boundaries, two each off Yadav and Aaron immediately after arriving at the crease. Delhi though did extremely well to contain Gayle till then. The explosive Caribbean faced 17 balls till the power-play and scored only 10 runs.
Gayle's first six came off fellow Jamaican Russell, who played in place of rested Morkel, in the eighth over and second off Y Venugopal Rao in the 10th over as RCB reached 79 for one at half-way mark. The stage was set for a big score and soon Gayle was his usual attacking self. He hit left-arm spinner Negi for a mammoth six and then completed his fifty with a long-off boundary off Russell.
All hell broke loose after that as Gayle hit Pathan and Negi for three sixes each and RCB went on to score 78 runs in the last five overs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 215 for one in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 128 not out, Virat Kohli 73 not out; Varun Aaron 1/38).
Delhi Daredevils: 194 for nine in 20 overs (Ross Taylor 55; Zaheer Khan 3/38, Parameswaran 3/30).