Bangalore: Virat Kohli struck a match-winning unbeaten 84 while Chris Gayle laid the foundation with a quickfire 92 to power Rayal Challengers Bangalore to the final of the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament here on Friday.
Chasing New South Wales Blues 203 for two, Gayle and Kohli used their long handle to great effect to overhaul the mammoth target with six wickets in hand and with nine balls to spare.
While Gayle started the onslaught with a fiery 92 that came off just 41 balls with eight boundaries and as many sixes, Kohli laced his unconquered 49-ball innings with 10 fours and three hits over the ropes.
Right-arm pacer Pat Cummins picked up all the four wickets for NSW, giving away 45 runs off his four overs. Earlier, David Warner slammed a whirlwind unbeaten century to power NSW to 203.
Warner (122 off 68) belted the RCB bowlers to all parts of the ground from the word go and together with Daniel Smith (62 off 42) shared a quickfire 146-run second wicket stand off just 87 balls to set the platform for the NSW total. Warner, who scored an unbeaten 135 to set up a victory against Chennai Super Kings, was at his imperious self, hammering RCB’s mediocre bowling. He hit six boundaries and as many as 11 sixes en route his 68-ball innings.
Warner was ably supported by Smith from the other end with seven fours and three huge hits over the fence.
Barring Tillakaratne Dilshan (1/10), none of the RCB bowlers could find their footing in front of the NSW batsmen, especially Warner.
Sreenath Aravind, who has been selected in the Indian squad for the first two ODIs against England, managed to pick up the other NSW wicket but not before yielding 55 runs from his four overs.
Contrary to the result, RCB’s chase started on a disastrous note as they lost Tillakaratne Dilshan (4) early in the third over.
But then things turned around for the home team with Gayle and Kohli sharing a majestic 142 runs off just 66 balls for the second wicket to bring RCB in sniffing distance of the victory.
But just when it seemed the duo would see RCB home without much trouble, Gayle and Saurabh Tiwary departed in consecutive balls. While Gayle fell lbw to Cummins, Tiwary was clean bowled by the right-arm pacer in the very next ball.
To make matters worse for RCB, Mayank Agarwal followed suit, edging one to Smith in Cummins’ next over to be reduced to 172 for four.
But then Kaif joined hands with Kohli and the duo played sensibly to see RCB home with more than an over to spare. (PTI)