Rajkot: As if paying scant respect to Virat Kohli’s magnificent, unconquered 100, Gujarat Lions feasted on the batting beauty of Rajkot and defeated his Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets here yesterday. Considering the nature and tradition of the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium pitch, even a seemingly challenging target of 181 never looked out of the reach of Gujarat Lions, who dished out a fine exhibition of a collective batting performance and made 182 for 4 in 19.3 overs.
RCB captain Virat Kohli. Pic/ PTI
What went wrong?
“We thought it was a decent, above-par total, but we couldn’t defend it. We’ll have to think and see what went wrong. Hopefully, we’ll come back strongly in our next game with a much-improved performance,” said Tabraiz Shamsi of the losing side. “It’s a bit disappointing that Kohli’s fine hundred went in vain. But that’s cricket for you — you win some, you lose some.”
Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith started the chase in savagely fashion, hitting fours and sixes, and sent shock waves in the Challengers’ camp. Playing his first match for the Lions, Smith hit three fours and two sixes in his 32 off 21 balls before Kane Richardson had him caught by AB de Villiers at the score of 47 in the sixth over. By then, the tempo was set and the foundation for victory was very much laid. Richardson’s happiness did not last long as McCullum, in a murderous mood, took 20 runs (two fours, two sixes) in his second over, which contained five wides, and threatened to make a mockery of the target. The Challengers were lucky to get rid of him, smartly caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Shamsi, for 42 (24 balls, 5x4, 2x6).
Karthik’s sensible innings
But Dinesh Karthik, who played a sensibly splendid innings of 50 not out, Suresh Raina (28), Ravindra Jadeja (12) and Dwayne Bravo, who hit the winning boundary, kept the momentum going and ensured the Lions had the last laugh and roar. “We were least bothered about the big target. McCullum and I decided to go for the bowling from the start itself. Luckily, both of us were hitting the ball nicely,” said Smith. “I may have missed the first four matches. It doesn’t matter. My job is to play as well as I can for Gujarat Lions. No, I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anybody by batting the way I did. It’s my natural game. I always play like this.”
Earlier, Kohli gave yet another proof of his class and standing as one of the premier batsmen of the world with a jewel of an innings studded with gems like shots executed brilliantly and played with the confidence of a man fully aware of his ability and who is in terrific form. “Kohli is a natural batsman, one of the best in the game today. It was a delight to see him the way he batted,” said Smith.