West Indies opener Chris Gayle hit an explosive 96 off 56 balls as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Kolkata Knight Riders by three wickets in their IPL match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday.
The flamboyant left-hander smashed seven sixes and seven fours, before he was run out with RCB needing just 7 runs to win with 1.4 overs to spare.
Gayle was dropped twice, as the Kolkata bowlers were flayed to all parts of the ground with debutant spinner KC Cariappa conceding 28 runs in his two overs.
Earlier, West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell’s spectacular cameo enabled the defending champions reach a comfortable 177 for six.
Russell smashed 41 off 17 balls with six boundaries and two sixes after skipper Gautam Gambhir created a platform with his second successive half-century in as many matches.
Courtesy Gambhir’s 58 off 46 balls (7x4, 1x6) and Robin Uthappa (35 from 28 balls; 4x4), KKR got a flying start with an 81-run opening partnership.
The KKR opening duo faced 64 balls for their 81 runs with skipper being lucky when AB de Villiers dropped a sitter when he was on 31 with the unlucky bowler being Abu Nechim Ahmed.
KKR were in a spot at 131 for four when they lost Manish Pandey (23) and Suryakumar Yadav (11) quickly but Russell took charge to take the team to safety.
Before RCB could make any further inroad Russell entertained the packed Eden crowd towards the death with his 17-ball 41 studded with six fours and two fours to give KKR score some filip.
Put in, KKR could not have asked for a better start, with two boundaries that went past their fielders and another run from an desperate overthrow for 13 runs from the first over bowled by Sean Abbott.
More than the runs that Abott leaked in the first over, it was RCB’s frantic approach that it seemed derailed them as they looked mentally exhausted.
Considered one of the safest fielders in the modern day cricket, De Villiers fluffed a catch and looked edgy in fielding among all of them.
KKR raced to 40 from four overs and the duo notched their 50-run partnership in 32 balls.
Gambhir going all guns blazing with 31 from 27 balls pulled a short ball of Abu Nechim Ahmed as it went straight to the ever reliable de Villiers but the ball was seen popped out of the South African’s hands in one unbelievable moment.
RCB finally managed to get the breakthrough after 10 overs with Abu Nechim breaking the opening partnership for 81 when Uthappa (35) holed out to Darren Sammy at long on.
Kohli’s men made a comeback by getting a second breakthrough when legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Gambhir with a wrong one. KKR earlier brought in uncapped rookie spinner KC Cariappa in place of Umesh Yadav in a bold move against a team that boasted the most explosive batting line-up in Kohli, Gayle and de Villiers.