In the 4th and 5th IPL matches played on Saturday, the results solely depended on the tear-away batting explosions from CSK and RCB openers; Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle. In case of McCullum, his 100 not out off 56 balls was the cornerstone of CSK’s 209 runs and although Sunrisers Hyderabad began well with David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, the 200-plus score became too much in the end. In the second match, Kolkata Knight Riders’ openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa began with a solid 81-run stand but lost their way later. For the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the victory target of 178 was quite challenging nevertheless. But no target is too big for Chris Gayle, when he is in full flow. The giant West Indian went after the KKR bowlers with vengeance and filled the sky with massive sixes. He didn’t mind losing his partners and continued his murderous assault until he was run out for a 56-ball 96. By that time however, RCB required just 8 runs from 10 deliveries. They finished the task without any more glitches and RCB had begun the season opener on a winning note.
In the first match at MA Chidambram Stadium Chennai, the home team notched up their second win of the season, helped by Brendon McCullum’s characteristically powerful assault that has made him famous. CSK had chosen to bat first after winning the toss and McCullum began with Dwayne Smith. The two batsmen put on 75 for the first wicket in 8 overs before Smith was run out by a fine flat throw from Trent Boult. Now McCullum swung into action with Suresh Raina for company. The second wicket partnership of 60 had only 14 coming from Raina as McCullum moved into high gear. At the other end, McCullum had Dhoni, who also went for big strikes. CSK moved with great momentum as the two batsmen showered sixes all around the ground. It didn’t matter that two more wickets fell in the 20th over as McCullum remained unbeaten for 100 scored off 56 balls with 7 fours and 9 sixes and CSK posted 209 on the board.
Coming out to chase 210, Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner started off with promise. But Dhawan departed at 30 and Lokesh Rahul followed him soon afterwards. Despite Warner’s 53 off 42 balls, Sunrisers lacked the momentum with hardly any batsman standing up to CSK’s well-oiled attack. Ravi Bopara and Kane Williamson did their bit but SRH lagged as the asking rate kept rising. All they could manage in 20 overs was 164 and lost the game by 45 runs.
In the second match, KKR openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa put on a solid 81 for first wicket but never looked like carrying the team score past 200. By 14th over, both openers had gone back to the pavilion and proceeding in middle overs slowed down. The final total could have been worse but for Andre Russell’s blistering 41 not out off 17 balls that carried the score to 177.
178 runs are not easy to chase in 20-over formats but KKR were up against the might of Chris Gayle, who is capable of single-handedly changing the complex of any game, when in full cry. RCB fans prayed for his stay at the crease as he walked out to open the innings with Virat Kohli. Somehow, Kohli is not playing the game, he is known for, as he fell early. He went for a leg-side pull to Morne Morkel and gloved a catch to Robin Uthappa. RCB were in further trouble as Yusuf Pathan bowled Dinesh Karthik and Mandeep Singh in quick succession. 56/3 in the 8th over looked ominous but Gayle was still there. He was joined by AB de Villiers, who accelerated to take RCB to 93 in the 11th over, before getting out for a 13-ball 28 with 3 fours and 2 sixes. Gayle watched from his end as Darren Sammy and Sean Abbott also departed to make it 133/6 in the 17th over. But the big man went for the kill as began showering the stadium with sixes. When he was unfortunately run out for 96 in the 19th over, RCB had come within striking distance to winning the match. Gayle’s 96 runs were scored off 56 balls and contained 7 fours and equal number of sixes. Courtesy the West Indian, RCB began the new IPL season with a 3-wicket victory over the defending champions.