A huge roar greeted the Royal Challengers Bangalore team bus as it entered the Chinnaswamy Stadium premises at 6 p.m. And as a boisterous Friday night progressed, the cheers reached a high when RCB scored an emphatic six-wicket win over New South Wales in the first semifinal of the Champions League here.
Chris Gayle (92, 41b, 8x4, 8x6) and Virat Kohli (84 n.o., 49b, 10x4, 3x6) lived up to their stature of being RCB's two most popular players and their medley of power and placement made a mockery of NSW's 203 for two.
RCB scored 204 for four in 18.3 overs though the chase had its share of queasy stomachs when Patrick Cummins grabbed three wickets in a clutch. Kohli, however, ensured that there were no more impediments to RCB's progress towards the final in Chennai on Sunday.
If Gayle was all about muscle and big blows, his younger partner Kohli threaded shots with pin-point precision in a second-wicket partnership of 141 runs off 66 balls that commenced once Tillakaratne Dilshan perished to Cummins.
Beauty and timing
The seamer was soon plundered for 22 runs with Gayle looming large and then a Mitchell Starc over provoked flicks, a punch and a pull from Kohli but the shots were more about beauty and timing.
During the frenzy, a relative lull chimed in when Gayle swiped twice and missed against leg-spinner Steven Smith, who also suffered the agony of watching Cummins drop Kohli on 44. Kohli and Gayle then hit the high notes against Moises Henriques. The merry romp continued until Cummins (four for 45) prised out Gayle, Saurabh Tiwary and Mayank Agarwal but Kohli waded into Starc in the 18th over and the match was soon sealed by the host.
Earlier, Daniel Vettori won the toss, opted to field and opened the attack with Dilshan against a surprised Shane Watson. Dilshan's off-breaks spun a tight leash and he finished his four overs conceding a paltry 10 runs besides scalping Watson. Dilshan's parsimony, however, was undone by Dirk Nannes's wayward ways and centurion David Warner (123 n.o., 68b, 6x4, 11x6) found his early appetisers while NSW thrived.
The southpaw also found a stable partner in Daniel Smith (62, 42b, 7x4, 3x6) and their second-wicket alliance notched up 146 runs off 87 deliveries.
During his second century on the trot in this tournament, Warner's warning shots were evident through a six off Vettori and in another off Gayle that crashed into the roof just above the giant screen. Smith fell to Arvind but Warner extended his dominance with sixes at will against an errant RCB attack with even Vettori offering a full-toss. Warner smashed Arvind for 23 runs in the innings' last over but his ton was destined to go in vain as RCB ruled the night.
New South Wales: S. Watson c Arvind b Dilshan 3 (4b), D. Warner (not out) 123 (68b, 6x4, 11x6), D. Smith b Arvind 62 (42b, 7x4, 3x6), B. Rohrer (not out) 7 (6b); Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-5): 8; Total (for two wkts. in 20 overs): 203.
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-163.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Dilshan 4-0-10-1, Nannes 4-0-51-0, Vettori 3-0-29-0, Gayle 1-0-14-0, Arvind 4-0-55-1, Bhatkal 4-0-41-0.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: C. Gayle lbw b Cummins 92 (41b, 8x4, 8x6), T. Dilshan c Henriques b Cummins 4 (9b, 1x4), V. Kohli (not out) 84 (49b, 10x4, 3x6), S. Tiwary b Cummins 0 (1b), M. Agarwal c Smith b Cummins 7 (4b, 1x6), M. Kaif (not out) 13 (8b, 2x4); Extras (w-3, nb-1): 4; Total (for four wkts. in 18.3 overs): 204.
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-162, 3-162, 4-172.
New South Wales bowling: Clark 4-0-31-0, Starc 3-0-41-0, Cummins 4-0-45-4, O'Keefe 2-0-26-0, Henriques 2-0-24-0, Smith 2.3-0-24-0, Warner 1-0-13-0.
Keywords: Champions League T20