GayleStorm and an ABsolute Class Finish !!!
A win to savor, some memories to cherish and many hopes reignited. This summed up our performance against the Pune Warriors the other night.
As I shared with the world the news that I finally became the Chief Blogger of my beloved team, a sense of anticipation and excitement kept building up till the game. Just the day before when I went in for my final round of interview, I had seen all my heroes in flesh and blood, waiting outside the hall I was to have my interview in. I was too excited and a tad nervous before the interview. I had a self belief though that if they judge me on the basis of passion for my team they will never find me wanting in any aspect. And so I stood vindicated when selected as the Blogger of the Team, albeit for a match. I said to myself I believe in this team and will cherish this one opportunity to watch them play in the stadium live and write about them.
Leading up to the evening of the match, there was a dark cover of cloud and a gloomy atmosphere, could be easily mistaken for the mood of RCB supporters who had seen their team flatter to deceive in the previous matches. But then along came the winds to blow the clouds away to pave way for one of the most memorable matches this IPL. The Winds of change were blowing and for a ardent supporter like me I believed in my team.
I reached the stadium with my RCB gear on loaded with flags, chants and whistles PWI lead by the nation's darling captain Dada won the toss and elected to bat. The local Lad Robin Uthappa and Jesse Ryder strode into a vociferous atmosphere, which by now Chinnaswamy is famous for. Being an ardent Karnataka fan I was hoping for a decent show by Uthappa and as he got going I realized that I was not alone and that there were many who cheered him on when he stuck those powerful boundaries. The opening partnership and lack of breakthrough kept the crowd jittery but hopeful. It was Jesse who dominated the opening partnership and also was the first one to depart as Mayank held onto a skier in the deep off Harshal Patel. Uthappa then took control and showed the appreciative crowd his repertoire of strokes in a partnership of over 50 with Ganguly where he managed just 6 off 8 balls before being done in by Vinay Kumar. Uthappa followed soon, after being foxed by the wily skills of Vettori for a score identical to the kit number of another K'taka and former RCB player - Manish Pandey who was ironically not in the starting XI of PWI, talk of might-have-beens. Samuels, Smith and Mathews kept the momentum going leading PWI to a healthy total of 182. All our bowlers bowled adequately without being outstanding with Vinay bowling a superb last over: .1.2W4-only to be thwarted by a boundary off the last ball. Fifth bowler though still remains an area of concern for our able coaching department to dwell on.
A quick bite at what was at offer and we were back ready to cheer for the big chase. They say there are grounds which are hallowed to play on and there are some in which the crowd creates an electric atmosphere which is loved by the players and motivates them to perform better. Chinnaswamy stadium is belongs to latter, where when the crowd gets behind their team cheering them, raucously supporting them, it can get quite intimidating for the opposition. They would have surely felt some of it as Chris "The Marauder" Gayle and Dilshan walked out for the chase, the remaining lot of it was reserved for the end. The chase got off to, at best, a sedate start with Dilshan falling to Dinda in the third over. Mayank Agarwal started off with a gorgeous straight six hitting the ball on the up making a sweet sound off the bat as it sailed into the stands. Gayle then continued where Mayank had left off in the previous over with a four and couple of sixes off Nehra. That set the tone up for the match one thought but with the fall of Mayank's wicket and some tight bowling by the infamous Samuel halted the momentum of the innings completely. The crowd were on the edge sensing something would give as the pressure mounted on the batting team. Kohli fell in trying to up the ante caught by R Sharma off Mathews, at that stage 111 was required off 49 balls.
If there was one man who could get us out of this situation he was right there in the middle of the pitch for RCB. Saurabh Tiwary joined him, an act of tremendous faith shown by the team management I must say, as he was pushed up the order I suspect for two tactical reasons - 1) To foil the opposition's strategy of using the leg-spinner by sending a left-hander and 2) To hand the role of finisher to the inimitable AB de Villiers. Then something happened something which nobody could imagine or rather something everybody just hoped would happen. Gayle flicked on a switch and off he went, taking along with him all the frenzied supporters in the stadium for a ride which was unforgettable to say the least. Long-off, Deep mid-wicket, Sight screen, Long-on and again the lucky Deep mid-wicket were recipients of 5 consecutive sixes - the man Monstrous Gayle. When he bats its almost as if he can cut loose anytime, just that he has to choose the time and the bowler. Its like a musician who when in mood just picks up the guitar and plays out a soulful melody. In any case we are not complaining as long as he puts up a show like that I sometimes feel, how all the other players wish they had such prowess !!! Now the equation suddenly look far more in reach 76 off 42 balls.
However there was one small twist to the tale, as Saurabh was settling in at the other end trying to rotate the strike, Nehra produced an absolute unplayable yorker to end a fantastic innings of 81(48) from Gayle. The game now hung in the balance as AB marched out to the middle. There is a sense of calmness and confidence these days about AB which can easily be sensed by all around him and it seemed to rub off on Tiwary as he smacked his first boundary in the 17th over followed by one by AB himself. That brought the equation down to 44 off 3 overs. If the reverse six off Pathan in the first match was anything to go by, then AB I believe is in that phase which batsmen call in-the-zone. He displayed his class and great form with an audacious reverse sweep six off Mathews when flew over the third man boundary which would have left many bewildered I am sure and many more in awe of the man's talent. Tiwary then got into the act himself as he dispatched a six over the mid-wicket fence. The target looked imminently gettable with 28 off 12 balls now but Dinda had other ideas as he bowled a superb penultimate over giving away just 7 runs.
Now with 21 required off 6 balls every ball needed to be an event in itself if RCB were to make it. Ball 1:Tiwary gets a single. Ball 2: AB tries to scoop the ball over short fine-leg and manages to arm the ball past the keeper for 4 .If you thought you had seen everything from ABD well you were mistaken. Ball 3: AB dispatches a low full-toss straight down the ground for a SIX. Ball 4: Impudence personified - walks across the off-stump and connects a scoop which carries over the fine-leg boundary for a SIX. Equation now reads 4 off 2. Ball 5: A good low full toss connected well for a single. Ball 6: 3 required off 1 and Tiwary finally comes to the party and how, he smokes a length ball into the stands over long-on for a SIX and seals what seemed to be a improbable WIN for RCB !!!
This win to my mind will rank up there along with the one against South Australia Redbacks, when Arun Karthik hit a last ball six, as one of the best wins for RCB. As we all know one swallow doesn't make a summer and we know the summer is quite loong. Here's hoping for some more encore performances and many more victories in the coming matches !!!