Gujarat Lions 135 for 3 (Finch 72, Raina 34*) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 134 (Negi 32, Jadhav 31, Tye 3-12, Jadeja 2-28) by seven wickets
Royal Challengers Bangalore paid the price for another batting meltdown to face an early elimination from IPL 2017. On a Chinnaswamy surface that played much better than other three games previously this season, RCB underachieved by being bowled out for 134, and then let the despondency slip into their bowling.
Aaron Finch feasted on an attack without the injured Tymal Mills, to race to a bruising 22-ball half-century to raze down the target with 37 balls to spare and lift Gujarat Lions off the bottom of the points table. But the star was once again Andrew Tye, who unleashed a barrage of variations – including his patented knuckle ball – to finish with three wickets that set up Lions’ third win in eight matches.
Tye ties RCB’s top-order in knots
Lions unleashed two young fast bowlers – Nathu Singh and Basil Thampi – on a surface where they got the ball to climb onto the batsmen. Four nights after slumping to 49 all out, the lowest score in IPL history, RCB started cautiously. The first four overs had fetched just two boundaries, one of which was Virat Kohli’s strong bottom-hand whip for six. But the frustration to score freely resulted in him picking out short fine leg in the fourth over.
With an early wicket in the bag, Tye, who had taken two or more wickets in three of the four matches this season (no other Lions bowlers had taken more than one before this game) was brought in and he struck first ball with a cross-seam delivery that nibbled away to take Chris Gayle’s outside edge. Off his next delivery, he got a length ball to climb on Travis Head, who nicked to Suresh Raina at slip. Kedar Jadhav extinguished the possibility of a second hat-trick for Tye, but Lions had done the early damage, with RCB tottering at 23 for 3 after five.
Jadhav’s lift, Mandeep’s brain-freeze
Jadhav offset the damage by hitting Basil Thampi for three successive boundaries in the sixth over. He started off with a pull in front of square and followed that up with a flick and an upper cut. Then in the next over, Ravindra Jadeja fired them in and got shoveled inside-out over cover. Having raced to 21 off 12 deliveries, Jadhav was in the mood. He welcomed debutant legspinner Ankit Soni by biffing him across the line over deep midwicket. His enterprise overshadowed AB de Villiers’ presence. A fight back was on the cards, but trying to be a little overambitious – exposing all three stumps to cutely dab Jadeja behind square – cost him.
Losing wickets in clumps was the order for RCB. Five balls after Jadhav fell, a total breakdown in communication resulted in de Villiers’ run-out. Mandeep Singh ran past his senior partner after initially stopping midway on his partner’s call to leave him stranded. De Villiers’ 11 deliveries fetched him five. At 60 for 5 at the halfway mark, RCB needed a miracle from their lower order. Negi provided that with some lusty blows but fell for a 19-ball 32 in his quest to muscle Soni for a third-successive six. A 23-run ninth-wicket stand between S Aravind and Aniket Choudhary managed to lift them to 134.
Badree’s early strikes raise RCB hopes
Ishan Kishan’s promotion to open with Brendon McCullum could’ve meant only one thing: of taking the attack to RCB. Kishan did just that, hitting Badree for three boundaries before being pinned in front by a skidder. Then, Kohli’s decision to give Badree a third-straight over paid off when McCullum holed out to long-on, trying to take the fielder on. With Lions at 23 for 2, RCB were in with a shout.
Finch sucker-punches RCB
The game was on the edge, but Finch decided attack was the best way to drive the game forward. He muscled Badree for two sixes in his first three deliveries and punished Aravind for two fours in the over that followed to offset any pressure there was on Lions.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Aniket Choudhary came in for similar treatment as Finch used his free swing to pepper the short side boundaries and race to a 22-ball half-century, the fastest for a Lions batsman. At the halfway mark, Lions were 95 for 2. Suresh Raina, far from his fluent self, should’ve been caught at deep midwicket but Chahal reprieved him by overstepping. But by then the game was all but lost by RCB. (ESPNCricinfo)
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo