After a long wait of 55 minutes for Sunday’s game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Titans to start due to rain, the crowd at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium was treated to spectacular one-man show from Virat Kohli, who coasted to his second consecutive century through an unbeaten 61-ball 101.
Kohli’s efforts of carrying his bat through the innings with 13 fours and a six at a strike-rate of 165.57 meant Bangalore posted a competitive 197/5, giving hopes to their die-hard fans in the stadium about reaching the playoffs and keeping the quest for the elusive trophy alive.
But Shubman Gill, the heir apparent of Kohli in the Indian batting line-up, sizzled with an unbeaten 104 off 52 balls, also his second straight IPL century, laced with hitting five fours and eight sixes at a strike-rate of 200 to break countless Bangalore-supporting hearts in the stadium and steal Kohli’s thunder.
He also shared a crucial 123-run partnership off 71 balls for the second wicket with Vijay Shankar, who scored a quick 53, to help Gujarat chase down 198 with five balls to spare, in what felt like passing of the Indian batting baton from one generation to another.
The result means that Bangalore crashed out of the race to the playoffs, with five-time champions Mumbai Indians sealing the last remaining spot in the last four stage and will face Lucknow Super Giants in the eliminator on May 24 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Chasing 198, Wriddhiman Saha and Gill hit two fours each in the first three overs, before the former fell in the third over off Mohammed Siraj when Wayne Parnell at cover jumped to take the catch with his outstretched left hand for a stunning one-handed take.
Shankar got couple of outside edges off Parnell for fours, followed by lofting a six over long-on as Gujarat ended power-play at 56/1. While Shankar struggled to get his timing against spinners, Gill smacked Vyshak Vijaykumar down the ground for a clean six, followed by a lucky edge going for four and swiping Himanshu Sharma for six over deep mid-wicket.
A change of bat saw Shankar cut Harshal Patel for four, followed by slog-sweeping between long-on and deep mid-wicket off Himanshu for another boundary. Gill ended the 11th over by dancing down the pitch to drive Himanshu through extra cover, followed by getting his fifty in 29 balls.
Gill then tore into Michael Bracewell’s off-spin, picking up a delivery on pads over long leg for six and clobbered one over deep mid-wicket for another maximum. Gujarat’s luck continued when Shankar got a four off an outside edge against Siraj. He then ramped and lofted Vyshak for two fours, before slogging him for six to get his fifty in 34 balls.
In a bid to get another six, Shankar holed out to deep mid-wicket on the very next ball, followed by Dasun Shanaka holing out in the same region in quick succession. After a no-boundary 17th over, Gill eased pressure with a short-arm pull off Siraj for six, though the pacer bounced back by having David Miller slicing to deep point.
Gill then nailed a pull off Siraj over deep mid-wicket for six to bring the equation to 19 off 12 balls. He again brought out the nonchalant short-arm pull against Harshal for six, before finishing off the chase in style with a maximum over long-on bringing up his second IPL century in as many games.
Earlier, Kohli mesmerised everyone with his magical bottom-handed shots, controlled footwork and usage of wrists to take Bangalore to a big total despite wickets falling around him, and went off the field to a rousing standing ovation from the crowd.
Pushed into batting first, Faf du Plessis went after Mohammed Shami, hitting four boundaries in the third over. Kohli joined the boundary-hitting party by flicking and pulling twice for three well-timed boundaries, before du Plessis ended the over by lofting over mid-off for four to end fourth over by taking 17 runs.
Kohli took a four each off Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad to end power-play at 62/0. Gujarat fought back in the eighth over when du Plessis went for loft off Noor, only for the bottom edge to go past the keeper and lobbed up to slip for an easy catch. Glenn Maxwell began powerfully with a six and four off the left-arm spinner, but was castled by a Rashid googly while trying to drive off him.
Noor stuck again when he enticed Mahipal Lomror to come out for a flick. But the ball went past him down leg and Saha moved swiftly to stump the batter. Kohli smashed a drive past long-off, before reaching his fifty in 35 balls. He found support from Bracewell, who began with three crisp boundaries through the off-side.
Kohli slammed Mohit over extra cover for four, before Bracewell capitalised on his slower deliveries to pick consecutive boundaries in a 15-run 13th over. Bracewell’s handy knock came to an end when the top-edge on a miscue was caught by Shami off his own bowling and Dinesh Karthik fell for a golden duck off Dayal when the bouncer took a glove edge behind.
Kohli led Bangalore’s recovery by cutting wide of cover and square-driving with perfection off Mohit for a brace of fours in the 16th over. He welcomed Dayal by swivelling hard over deep mid-wicket for six, before clipping him for four. Kohli flicked sweetly and pulled off Shami for two fours, before reaching his century off 60 balls in the final over. But it wasn’t sufficient enough to avoid being stunned by Gill.
Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 197/5 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 101 not out; Noor Ahmad 2/39) lost to Gujarat Titans 198/4 in 19.1 overs (Shubman Gill 104 not out, Vijay Shankar 53; Mohammed Siraj 2/32) by six wickets