IPL 2022: Kohli blitz takes RCB to fourth place with 8-wicket win over Gujarat
Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore hitting a four during match 67 of the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 against Gujarat Titans at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 19, 2022.Saikat Das/IPL

IPL 2022: Kohli blitz takes RCB to fourth place with 8-wicket win over Gujarat

Mumbai, May 19, 2022

A vintage blitz from Virat Kohli (73 off 54 balls), with support from Faf du Plessis (44 off 38 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (40 not out off 18 balls), took Royal Challengers Bangalore to fourth place in the IPL 2022 points table with an emphatic eight-wicket win over table-toppers Gujarat Titans at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

After Hardik Pandya's unbeaten 62 carried Gujarat to 168/5, Kohli came out all guns blazing, bringing out his vintage self with a pumped-up attitude to notch up his highest score of the tournament while stitching a 115-run opening stand with du Plessis.

After the duo fell, Maxwell applied the finishing touches as RCB emerged victorious with eight balls to spare.

With Bangalore's win, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings are out of the knockouts race. For Bangalore to retain their fourth place and progress to the playoffs, they would need Delhi Capitals to lose to Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

In the pursuit of 169, Bangalore were off to a flying start with Kohli and du Plessis hitting nine boundaries to reach 55/0 in power-play. It was also just the third time Gujarat failed to pick a wicket in the first six overs.

The chief reason behind it was Kohli running quick off the blocks and quashing queries over his poor form throughout the tournament, with the crowd at Wankhede Stadium firmly cheering for the talismanic batter.

He began by lofting Mohammed Shami over his head and then superbly lofted him inside-out over extra-cover. Thursday felt like luck was favouring Kohli heavily. When Hardik Pandya cramped Kohli with a slower ball, the thick inside edge rolled past the stumps.

When Kohli whipped a full ball in the air, Rashid Khan, who was inches inside the square-leg boundary, dropped the catch. Kohli then produced the shot of the match, dancing down the pitch and lofting straight over Rashid's head with impeccable timing.

With du Plessis giving solid support, Kohli brought up his fifty in 33 balls with a nice clipped six over deep mid-wicket off Rashid. Du Plessis brought up the century of the opening partnership by swatting Lockie Ferguson through mid-wicket. But he fell six short of his fifty, as top-edge on slog sweep went to cover off Rashid, bringing the 115-run stand to a close.

Rashid then hit the top of Maxwell's leg stump as the batter tried to swipe across the line. But the bails didn't come off and the ball rolled away for four byes. The slice of luck at the start proved advantageous for Maxwell as he smacked Pandya for sixes - loft over long-on and reverse scoop over third man - apart from a boundary through long leg.

Kohli's dazzling show continued as he elegantly brought out a lofted drive over long-off against Rashid. But a ball later, Kohli tried to hit another six but the ball went through the gap between bat and pad to be stumped by a quickish googly from Rashid. Maxwell smacked four boundaries in his next nine balls, including three off Ferguson, to seal the match in Bangalore's favour.

Earlier, Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya notched up his fourth fifty of IPL 2022, an unbeaten 62 off 47 balls laced with four boundaries and three sixes, to carry Gujarat Titans to 168/5 in their 20 overs.

Apart from Pandya, David Miller hit 34 off 35 balls while Rashid Khan starred with a cameo of 19 off just six balls.

For Bangalore, Josh Hazlewood was the standout bowler with 2/39 while Glenn Maxwell and Wanindu Hasaranga took a wicket each.

But with no Harshal Patel in the death overs due to an injury to his right hand, Bangalore were weakened in the last five overs, conceding 50 runs, with 34 of those coming in the final two overs.

Electing to bat first, Wriddhiman Saha continued his purple patch in power-play by smacking three boundaries and a six in the first two overs, including taking 14 runs in the opening over off Siddarth Kaul. But Bangalore made inroads as Maxwell took a one-handed screamer, diving full-length to his right to send Shubman Gill back to the pavilion off Hazlewood.

Matthew Wade got going with two boundaries and a six against Hazlewood. But he was trapped lbw for 16 while shuffling for a sweep against Maxwell. The left-hander was quick to review but UltraEdge showed no spike when the ball passed the bat despite the side angle showing a clear deviation in the trajectory of the ball.

Bangalore pushed Gujarat into trouble when Saha, who slowed down considerably after power-play, was run out by a direct hit from Faf du Plessis at mid-off. But as it has been the case with Gujarat in the tournament, they have found ways out of tough situations. Leading the charge for them now was Pandya and Miller.

Pandya had luck on his side when a mishit straight down the ground was palmed over the long-on rope by Suyash Prabhudessai for six. In the next over, he came forward to defend against Hasaranga, only to edge just wide of the keeper for a boundary. With Patel going off the field after bleeding from his bowling hand in the 13th over, Gujarat found a chance to increase their scoring rate.

Miller, quiet till then, dispatched Maxwell for back-to-back sixes in the 14th over. When Maxwell went full and outside off, Miller stretched out his hands to slam over the bowler's head into the top-tier down the ground. Maxwell tried redemption with a rank long hop but Miller cleared his front leg and swatted it flat over the mid-wicket fence.

With Miller smacking an overpitched delivery from Shahbaz Ahmed over long-on for his third six of the night, Gujarat's revival looked on course. But Hasaranga broke the 61-run stand, off 47 balls, by grabbing a sharp return catch on Miller's drive down the ground.

After Rahul Tewatia fell cheaply to Hazlewood, Pandya and Rashid Khan cut loose with two boundaries and a six -- the second of which took Pandya to his fifty in 42 balls -- to take 17 runs off Kaul's final over.

Pandya and Khan hit a six each over cow corner in the last over off Hazlewood to carry Gujarat to a respectable total.

Brief scores: Gujarat Titans 168/5 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 62 not out, David Miller 34; Josh Hazlewood 2/39, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/25) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 170/2 in 18.4 overs (Virat Kohli 73, Faf du Plessis 44; Rashid Khan 2/32)

IANS

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