Bangalore Royal Challengers 170 for 2 (Kohli 73, du Plessis 44, Rashid 2-32) beaten Gujarat Titans 168 for 5 (Pandya 62*, Miller 34, Hazlewood 2-39) by eight wickets
Such a dominant win didn’t seem likely when Royal Challengers-designated death bowler Harshal Patel won just one and then walked off the pitch after splitting the strap in his bowling hand. Despite late shots from Hardik Pandya (62* from 47 balls) and Rashid (19* from 6 balls), the RCB without Harshal managed to limit the Titans to 168 for 5 on a slow Wankhede pitch.
Maxwell at the heart of the action
Maxwell’s first contribution of the night was a spectacular one-handed hold off a wide slide to dismiss Shubman Gill for 1. Maxwell then kicked two overs on the power play which brought in Matthew Wade’s wicket and did not only cost the Royal Challengers two points. Wade was visibly frustrated at being assigned an lbw when he thought he had swept down on his pad. It requested a review almost immediately, but UltraEdge didn’t pick up a spike, although some side replays suggested a deviation out of hand. So there was not enough evidence for TV umpire Navdeep Singh to overturn the on-court appeal.
Miller and Pandya do the repair work
When du Plessis netted a direct hit against run-out Wriddhiman Saha in the ninth, the Titans were 62 for 3. Pandya and David Miller then reunited, forging a fourth-wicket stand of 61 runs. Pandya, in particular, struggled to time the ball on a pitch that offered grip for slower bowlers. He swung so hard at Maxwell that he not only lost his form but also his grip, the bat flying over the square leg in the tenth.
As for Miller, he was smoother against the spin, taking fingerpinners Maxwell and Shahbaz Ahmed for 23 out of 11. However, wrist spinner Wanindu Hasaranga shortened Miller’s innings to 34 out of 25 with a terrific return socket.
Despite Harshal being unavailable, the Royal Challengers have had Pandya working hard for most of his innings. It took him 42 bullets to get to half a century. Rashid and Pandya then plundered 34 from the last two overs played by Siddharth Kaul and Josh Hazlewood, but they still couldn’t reach 170.
The Kohli Show
Kohli gave the Royal Challengers pursuit a boost, winning 34 of the 55 points they had on the power play.
His innings were pure theatre, with the Wankhede crowd right behind him. He pumped Mohammed Shami over his head for four in the third and steadily punched over the top, a departure from his usual cautious approach on the power play.
Fortune was also on his side on Thursday. When Shami found a sewing move, the ball didn’t skim the outside edge. And when Hardik Pandya pinched the ball from him and hindered him, the inside edge missed the stumps. Kohli was also given a reprieve on the 16th when Rashid, standing yards from the square leg boundary, dropped a hold.
Kohli’s early onslaught prompted the Titans to rush Rashid into the attack in the fifth, but Kohli attacked him as well. He pushed it over his head for four and then threw 33 ball fifty in grand style, with his first-ever six against Rashid.
Kohli, however, wisely played R Sai Kishore who varied his pace smartly and got more buy on the court. When he drifted one into Kohli and caused it to turn away sharply, it drifted away from the outer edge of Kohli. There were enough signs that it was Kohli’s night. Kohli was so excited that he even celebrated du Plessis’ limits with flying colors.
Rashid then returned to the attack to give the Royal Challengers some late chills. He hooked du Plessis and Kohli in successive overs and nearly added Maxwell to his scalps. He touched the top of Maxwell’s leg stump, but the bails were not dislodged. Maxwell went on a boundary-breaking frenzy to close out the game he had put together beautifully.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo