By BV Swagath
Royal Challengers are closing in towards the play offs after defeating the tough Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla by 21 runs in Match 67 of IPL 5. This victory powered by Chris Gayle’s smashing century has helped RCB to move up to 17 points and level with the Chennai Super Kings. RCB, which is currently placed at no.5 still have a game left to pick up two more points. Their last league match is against the weakest team of the tournament – Deccan Chargers, and therefore have a great advantage of making it to the play offs with CSK playing out all its 16 games.
Despite putting up a monstrous total of 215 for 1, RCB had their anxious moments on the field as the Delhi Daredevils went hard at the target. The hosts had nothing to lose as they have already qualified for the last four. Once a dangerous David Warner departed in the 2nd over, RCB could breathe easy and the match was well in control when Daredevils lost their fourth wicket in the form of Y Venugopal Rao (36 from 24 balls with 4 fours and a six) with 107 on the board in 11.3 overs.
The match turned on its head when an out of form Ross Taylor went onto connect his trademark slog sweeps. Within no time, Ross Taylor brought up a rapid fifty but early in the 17th over perished when he top edged a pull off Vinay Kumar. Taylor scored 55 from just 26 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes.
After Taylor’s exit, all eyes were on Andre Russell who hit three big sixes, but the task for him was just too unrealistic. However, Russell’s 31 (from 15 balls with a four and three sixes) did cut down the margin of victory for RCB significantly. Should the RCB lose against Deccan Chargers in their last match then it could all boil down to the net run rates as they would be on level with CSK on 17 points.
The wicket takers of the night for RCB were the two left arm pacers – Zaheer Khan (3/38) and P Parameswaram (3/30). The Man of the Match was obviously the demolition man – Chris Gayle.