Virat Kohli opted to bat first in the last league match of Indian Premier League 2017 at Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday (May 14) because he felt the surface would slow down. His analysis was proved right as Royal Challengers Bangalore, who finished with the wooden spoon, ended their campaign with a ten-run win over Delhi Daredevils.
Kohli led from the front with a calculated 45-ball 58 as Bangalore made 161 for 6 despite Chris Gayle (48) being the only other batsman to cross 15. After that, Avesh Khan, making his IPL debut, removed Sanju Samson with the second ball of Delhi’s innings, and Harshal Patel struck twice in two balls in the 12th over as the home side was bowled out for 151 in 20 overs.
Gayle, keen to make his last appearance for Bangalore before next season’s mega auction count, started on an attacking note with two flicks to the leg-side fence in Zaheer Khan’s first over. He also pulled Mohammed Shami twice and hit Amit Mishra over the midwicket fence for his three sixes.
Gayle and Kohli realised the need to bat deep in a game where Bangalore made five changes, and took 8.2 overs to put on 66 runs for the second wicket, of which 19 came in the 12th over bowled by Mishra.
Kohli, in particular, was impressive, and nothing was more spectacular than his first six of the innings. He was on 10 when Corey Anderson bowled a cross-seam delivery on a good length. Kohli just check-drove it over the extra-cover fence for one of the most stylish shots of the season.
Delhi broke through in the 14th over when Gayle failed to read Shahbaz Nadeem’s wrong one and was caught by Zaheer at short midwicket. In the next over, Travis Head failed to make his ground at the non-striker’s end while going for a second run before Zaheer collected Shreyas Iyer’s throw from midwicket and broke the stumps.
Soon after Kohli brought up his half-century and became the only Bangalore batsman to cross the 300-run mark this season, he swatted a full toss from Zaheer over the midwicket fence for his third six. Zaheer, who had dropped a difficult return chance a ball earlier, struck back immediately when Kohli mistimed an over-pitched delivery to be caught by Nadeem at long-off.
Kedar Jadhav and Sachin Baby did not add much, but Pawan Negi hit three consecutive fours in the final over off Anderson to end the innings on a high.
In their first match this season, Delhi had failed to chase 158 against Bangalore. It would have boosted Bangalore’s confidence, and they would have believed more in themselves after Avesh got Samson to pull one straight to Kohli at mid-on.
Karun Nair hit five fours in a well-made 26 and added 41 with Iyer, but was late on a pull shot off Shane Watson in the sixth over as Jadhav took an easy catch at midwicket.
The bowlers took the pace off the ball, making it difficult for Delhi to score runs. Even if Iyer and Rishabh Pant put on 46, they were allowed just three fours and a six during their association that lasted 38 deliveries.
Something had to give, and Iyer hit a back-of-a-length slower ball from Harshal to Watson at short-cover. Marlon Samuels offered no footwork to another slower ball to be bowled. Harshal’s hat-trick ball too was a slower one, but Anderson negated it.
Pant and Anderson were left needing 61 off the last six overs when Watson conceded just three runs. The pressure resulted in Head having Anderson stumped off the second ball of the 16th over. Head ended that over with Pat Cummins’s wicket – caught by Kohli at long-off.
The decisive blow came in the next over when Pant (45), running out of partners, was bowled swinging at a full ball from Harshal.
Shami hit two fours and a six to reduce the equation to 13 in the final over, but Negi had him stumped. As many as six batsmen being dismissed for single-digit scores proved costly for Delhi in a moderate chase, and summed up their season where they failed to close out at least five games.