One thing that was imperative, that was certain but took a long time to come. VIrat`s elusive T20 100. He came close on more than one occasion but today was the day. It was as if he was destined to do it today.
On the birthday of his idol Sachin Tendulkar, he matched Sachin’s highest T20 score of 100 runs.
He reached to the milestone with a boundary off the last over to a deafening crowd at Rajkot. All of this and still it was not his day. RCB bowlers once again failed to protect a huge target and Gujrat Lions were back to winning ways after a shock defeat in their last match.
RCB decided to bat first after winning the toss. The decision to move Watson up the order to open with Virat misfired. Watson was out early and the number 3 AB De Villiers played some characteristic strokes before being dismissed for 20 off 16 balls, leaving RCB tottering at 59 for 2 in just under 8 overs.
Virat started as his usual fluent and continued to milk the Gujarat bowlers. KL Rahul, the new man ably supported Virat and rotated the strike regularly to bring Virat back on strike.
Once the last few overs started both the batsmen went berserk. Infact, at one point, Rahul was 26 off 26 and it took Virat to talk him up to push the game a bit. Result – KL Rahul finished at 51 not out off just 35 balls. Virat was at 85 when the 20th over started.
A six, and two consecutive fours meant Virat was at 100 not out off 63 balls at the end of the innings.
RCB scored 180 for 2. A partnership of unbeaten 121 for the 3rd wicket. It was Virat’s euphoria all over the crowd. But as the atmosphere settled, it was back to the ground where the Lions needed 181 to win won a good batting track.
Gujarat started in style with both the openers; Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum going after the bowling from the word Go.
Smith made 32 off 21 balls and McCullum scored 42 off 24 to ease the pressure on the batsmen to follow. They scored 47 for the 1st wicket in 5.2 overs and the platform was set for Raina and Co. to launch. They were particularly harsh on fast bowler Kane Richardson who finished with figures of 53 runs off his 4 overs. All the batsmen scored and build partnerships to deny RCB any opportunity to bounce back.
Raina scored 28 while Dinesh Karthik was unbeaten on 50 off 39 balls as Dwayne Bravo finished the match with a boundary off his first ball with 3 balls to spare in the innings.
Gujarat Lions now have 4 wins from 5 matches and look serious contenders with both, their batting and bowling looking good. RCB continue to score and fail to defend. They would hope for some sanity for the bowlers as the tournament moves into the middle stages.