x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Bangalore's Gayle force shocks Pune

A blistering 81 ensures Royal Challengers emerge successful in overhauling stiff target set by in-form Warriors.

Chris Gayle hit eight sixes in his knock of 81.
Chris Gayle hit eight sixes in his knock of 81.

Before the start of the game, Sourav Ganguly was asked about the transformation in the Pune Warriors India.

They have looked a different side to the one that finished second from bottom last season.

"A younger captain," joked the 39 year old, who is captain-cum-mentor of a team who have surprised every pundit with their performances in season five.

There is not a single star in the team and yet they have beaten the likes of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.

Last night, the Warriors almost added the Royal Challengers Bangalore to their list of conquests, but some audacious hitting from Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, and Saurabh Tiwary's last ball six, saved the hosts.

"Early wins give you confidence," Ganguly said about his team's turnaround.

"We've got some guys who are hungry, who want to make a mark here because it will help them to play for their country, guys like [Steve] Smith, [Angelo] Mathews, [Marlon] Samuels, [Jesse] Ryder and Callum Ferguson, who I can't give a game.

"So there are guys who want to use this platform to do well. That's been the biggest positive."

You could include Robin Uthappa in that category as well. Ignored by the Indian cricket establishment, the Karnataka batsman is using the Indian Premier League to present his case yet again.

And he posted a reminder with only his seventh delivery on his home ground in Bangalore yesterday, stamping his foot down and banishing the ball effortlessly over mid-wicket.

At the other end, the burly Ryder smashed Zaheer Khan down the ground in the manner of a baseball player and the runs flowed freely. By the end of six overs, the Warriors had 58 on the board with both openers still there in the middle blazing away.

Ryder (34) was back in the pavilion next over, but Uthappa (69) kept going, punishing every bowler, contemptuously employing the reverse sweep a couple of times, until he chipped Daniel Vettori to point.

The tempo slowed a bit after his departure, but Samuels' 20-ball 34 made sure Pune had 182 for six on the board.

Chasing 183, Chris Gayle (81) threatened to win the game on his own after smashing Rahul Sharma for five consecutive sixes in the 13th over, but Ashish Nehra cleaned him with a yorker and Ashok Dinda bowled a boundary-less seven-run penultimate over when Bangalore needed 28 from the last two.

De Villiers, however, used the reverse sweep and scoop shot to hit Nehra for a four and two sixes, leaving Tiwary with three runs to get off the last ball; the southpaw smacked it for a maximum to bring Bangalore's three-match losing streak to an end. It was the 21st six of the innings.

"We needed this win and to do it under these circumstances is probably a great momentum shift for the group," said Vettori, the Bangalore captain.

"It was a really tough chase and for AB and Tiwary to come out there and finish it off after Chris' great work was just hopefully the elixir the team needs."

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE