Bangalore: Ajinkya Rahane's unbeaten century proved to be more than enough for Rajasthan Royals as they defeated a stunned Royal Challengers Bangalore by a massive 59 runs at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday. Chasing 196 to win, Bangalore were never in the chase despite a frenetic start and the match eventually turned into a one-sided affair after Virat Kohli's dismissal half-way through the innings.
After Rahane's fireworks, the hosts needed a repeat of the powerful batting from Chris Gayle and Kohli that had seen them post a massive 200-plus total in their previous game against Chennai Super Kings, albeit in a losing cause. The big shots, however, initially came from the little-known Mayank Agarwal, who hit three fours and three sixes to take Bangalore to 38 after the first four overs. With Gayle yet to get going and the likes of Kohli, AB de Villiers and Saurabh Tiwary waiting in the wings, the stage was set. Pankaj Singh, though, struck twice in the fifth over to derail their chase. Agarwal perished to a top-edge after going for one big shot too many, and Gayle followed one ball later, getting an inside edge to be bowled for just 8.
Kohli and de Villiers then found it hard to get going, though their presence would have given Bangalore hope despite the required run rate reaching double figures. However, Siddharth Trivedi dismissed de Villiers in his very first over and Kohli in the next, snuffing out any remaining chances, as Rajasthan reduced the hosts to 76 for 3 in 10 overs. The remaining six wickets then fell without any major contribution, Trivedi picking up another two wickets in the 15th before Amit Singh helped clean up the tail, as Bangalore were all out for 136.
With their third win in five matches, Rajasthan went to the top of the table.
Earlier, Rajasthan put themselves in pole position for a much-needed victory after electing to bat, with Rahane’s remarkable innings pulling them up to 195 for 2. The platform was laid by a steady opening stand between Rahane and skipper Rahul Dravid, as 61 runs came off the first ten overs. The real damage, though, was done after Daniel Vettori gave the hosts their first breakthrough – Dravid stumped for 25 – as Rahane came together with Owais Shah to hammer 113 runs off the last seven overs.
The turnaround began in an astonishing 14th over which saw Rahane – currently topping the run-scoring charts after missing out on a hundred earlier in the tournament – smash six consecutive boundaries in an over off the unfortunate Sreenath Aravind – a T20 record. Owais Shah was the next to get into the act, helping himself to two sixes and a four off an over from Gayle. The boundaries kept raining in as Rahane brought up the first century of IPL 5 in just 58 deliveries, eventually finishing unbeaten on 103 with 12 fours and 5 sixes, while Shah was finally dismissed for a fiery 26-ball 60 in the penultimate over.
In the previous game it was an expensive over from part-timer Virat Kohli that had cost Bangalore the match; this time 21 runs came off Gayle’s single over. Despite the carnage, Zaheer Khan, Muttiah Muralitharan and Vettori still finished with respectable averages, so RCB will have plenty to ponder over with regard to the role of their supporting bowlers as they fell to their third straight defeat, with their much-vaunted batting line-up also failing to meet their expectations once again. Meanwhile, with their third win in five matches, Rajasthan went to the top of the fledgling IPL table.