This was a game that Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) needed to win to restore their credibility after four defeats in five matches previously, and they did just that. For the resounding 21-run win on Tuesday evening, they had Chris Gayle plenty to thank, who became the first player in the history of T20s to score 10,000 runs during the course of his innings of 77 off 38 balls.
However when the moment came in the fourth over, it was an easy event to miss. With an edgy drive and a single, Gayle made history but showed no outward reaction. After that though, his power and aggression were in full evidence. Captain Virat Kohli, at the other end, showed the adaptability that makes him a masterclass, and after taking the lead in the first few overs, eventually settled into a steadying role.
37-year-old Gayle didn’t take long to reach his first fifty this season off 23 balls, and then in a great act of showmanship took a moment to sprinkle magic dust off his bat onto the pitch and the crowd at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium loved it.
After a 122-run opening stand, Gayle and Kohli, who made a 50-ball 64, departed in the space of 19 balls setting RCB back a little but just when the Gujarat bowlers seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the Travis Head (16-ball 30) and Kedar Jadhav (16-ball 38) combine showed us that the RCB side weren’t done wowing us, with their 54-run unbeaten partnership for the third wicket.
With 213 runs pinned on the board, the visitors got off to a perfect start in defence of their total as Yuzvendra Chahal picked up a wicket in the second over of Gujarat’s chase. The in-form legspinner later added Suresh Raina and the hosts’ top-scorer Brendon McCullum (72 off 44 balls) to his wickets tally to help RCB return to winning ways in big way.
It was a crucial win and every RCB player contributed to it but no one will be more happy than the Universe Boss himself, who unleashed seven sixes and five fours on the day. He admitted it was important for him to hit form sooner rather than later. “Determination is important. A special occasion to reach 10,000 runs. A lot of guys spoke to me about my stance. Even Shaun Pollock spoke to me about my stance. You're never too old to learn. People still looking out for Chris Gayle. The Universe Boss is still here and still alive," Gayle said after being adjudged Man of the Match.
With Gayle back in the thick of things, bad days definitely await opposition bowlers in the IPL, and RCB would once again back themselves to reach the play-off.