Billed as a Chris Gayle-Dale Steyn showdown, the first part of their face-off flopped. Nonetheless, the unprecedented sequel, after both sides were tied at 130, proved to be a riveting affair. Needing 21 runs in the one-over eliminator, not even Gayle could see Royal Challengers through, as Steyn conceded only 15 runs, guaranteeing Sunrisers a five-run win. Not to forget Cameron White, who smoked 17 off the 20 runs Sunrisers scored in the eliminator.
But the conclusion apart, the man of the day was little-known Gade Hanuma Vihari, who first dismissed Gayle with his first ball before anchoring the Sunrisers with a cleverly-paced 46 off 44 balls.
Coming in at the fall of Cameron White, the 19-year-old wouldn’t have been faulted for not firing. But he oozed composure from the start and sustained it to the last.
Though he regularly lost his partners — the highest alliance was 33 runs with skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who yet again couldn’t impact the game — he gradually pushed them forward to the target of 131, by all yardsticks a below-par score.
However, RCB kept stalling themwith timely blows. And when Sangakkara left, their fourth wicket to fall, Sunrisers required 50 runs off 38 deliveries. Soon they lost Thisara Perera and Amit Mishra, too.
But with State-mate Ashish Reddy, Vihari stitched a vital 23-run partnership in three overs. Reddy walloped Vinay Kumar for a six before Vihari smacked the same bowler for four in the 18th over to bring Sunrisers nearer to victory. The two combined seven more runs in the 19th over.
The home team were left with a comfortable task of seven runs in the last over. But Vinay Kumar had Reddy caught at short covers with his first ball and the rest could scamper only six more runs, warranting the inevitable. White chose that moment to redeem his otherwise forgettable match and he enforced himself with a brace of towering sixes off Vinay Kumar, setting RCB a target of 21 runs.
Though Virat Kohli helped himself with a four down the leg-side and Gayle tethered a massive six over sight-screen, Gayle couldn’t get any power or elevation to fetch the last ball into the stands.
Kohli looked gutted, as his resolute effort in the first dig went waste. Circumstances were that he was unusually sedate and his 46 consumed 44 balls. But for Moises Henriques’ late burst, RCB would have struggled to cross even 120.