Gayle stars as Royal Challengers beat Pune Warriors in a thriller

Gayle stars as Royal Challengers beat Pune Warriors in a thrillerBangalore, April 18 - Riding on a brilliant 81 by Chris Gayle, Royal Challengers Bangalore pulled off a sensational six-wicket victory off the last ball against a resilient Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Chinnaswamy stadium here late Tuesday.

Chasing an imposing target of 183 runs in an exciting encounter that went down to the wire, Royal Challengers' young batsman Saurabh Tiwary (36 not out) hit left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra of Warriors for a six over long-on to register their second win after three successive losses. AB de Villiers also remained unbeaten on 33.

The dramatic win for the home team after losing three games on a trot made even the rain gods smile, as a cloudy sky opened up while the Challengers went for the jugular in the final over.

Needing 21 runs from the last over, Tiwary took a single off the first ball and De Villiers hit Nehra for a four and followed it with two huge sixes to reverse the equation in Challengers' favour. They now required four off two balls. De Villiers could manage to get only one off the fifth ball and they needed three runs off the sixth ball. It was in the hands of left-hander Tiwary, who hit over the fence, giving a new life to a team that was looking to bounce back with a desperate win.

Tiwary, who hit two sixes and a four in his 25-ball knock, and De Villiers, who made a breezy 33 off 14 balls with three sixes and two fours, posted a 50-run fifth wicket partnership.

Just before Tiwary and de Villiers got into the act to reverse Royal Challengers' fortunes, their other opener Gayle returned to form to set the stands on fire with an explosive innings to set the stage for a win.

Though Gayle took time to settle down initially, he opened up to hit a record eight sixes and four fours, with five of the sixes coming in the 13th over by Warriors' Rahul Sharma.

Earlier, opting to bat first, Warriors hit 182 for the loss of six wickets in the stipulated 20 overs, with openers Robin Uthappa and Jesse Ryder putting up a 63-run first wicket partnership in 6.6 overs, taking full advantage of the power play.

As a local lad, Uthappa, who scored a breezy 69 in 45 balls with nine fours two sixes, had the fans cheering him for every shot he hit.

The frenzied fans were, however, disappointed to see Warriors captain Sourav Ganguly exit quickly for a paltry six off eight balls.

Besides Ryder, who hit 34 off 22 balls, Marlon Samuels and Steve Smith steadied the innings to take the score past the 150-mark with a 47-run fourth wicket partnership.

Incidentally, Samuels and Smith were run out by brilliant throws on the stumps by wicket-keeper De Villiers and Vinay Kumar respectively.

Of the four wickets that fell, Vinay scaled two for 34, while Harshal Patel and captain Daniel Vittori shared one each. (IANS)


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