BENGALURU: The IPL 2022 has moved into the final lap, and teams are still fighting for the two remaining Playoff spots.
Hence when Royal Challengers Bangalore faced Gujarat Lions, who have already qualified, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday, Faf Du Plessis' men had no option, but to win the game and stay alive in the race for the top four.
To begin with, RCB did start on a bright note. Gujarat opener Shubman Gill was dismissed for just one run by Josh Hazlewood. Even though Wriddhiman Saha (31) and Matthew Wade (16) looked good, Gujarat were 62/3 in the ninth over. It could have been four down the next over, but Hardik Pandya was dropped by Suyash Prabhudessai for 14. His 47-ball 62 helped Gujarat end up with 168/5 on a tricky surface.
In reply, RCB chased down the score with eight balls to spare to win the contest by eight wickets to move fourth on the table. However, if Delhi Capitals beat Mumbai Indians on Sunday, RCB's journey in the 14th edition will come to an end. From their final group match of the season, there were plenty of positives, the biggest of them being Virat Kohli returning to form, who scored a match-winning 73 alongside Du Plessis (44) at the top.
With Kohli having failed to deliver big time earlier in the season, the right-hander was hell bent on delivering the goods against Gujarat. Chasing 169 to win, the former captain looked in his element playing some of his signature wristy shots against both seamers and pacers. Kohli scored bulk of the runs in the powerplay as RCB were 55/0 and completed his individual fifty with a six in 33 balls in the 10th over.
After his fifty, the batter knew they were on course for a victory and played sensibly, but was eventually out for 54-ball 73. However, Glenn Maxwell ensured that there was no further hiccup with an strike-filled 18-ball 40 to see his team home in the 19th over.
Brief scores: GT 168/5 in 20 overs (Hardik 62, Miller 34) lost to RCB 170/2 in 18.4 overs (Kohli 73, Du Plessis 44).