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Prince leads Warriors to a thrilling victory

cricket Updated: Sep 24, 2011 02:39 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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At the end, you felt bad for S Aravind. With the Warriors needing seven off the last over to win the Champions League T20 opener against the Royal Challengers Bangalore here, the left-arm pacer did almost everything right till the final two deliveries went for four and two to hand the match to the visitors.

The failure, though, was collective.

If the Royal Challengers are to prove they are more than a one-man army, they will have to do better than what they did on Friday night.

Ashwell Prince played the kind of innings that Chris Gayle threatened to but failed. It was ironical that Gayle's off-spin was taken to the cleaners at the start and at the death as the Warriors chased down 173.

Prince was out for a career-best T20 knock of 74 (55 balls, 6x4, 3x6). But Warriors found enough lusty hits near the end to win.

Flattering to deceive

The Royal Challengers' total could have been bigger, but for their batsmen's propensity to find fielders in the deep. Wayne Parnell spilled one, but the South Africans caught everything else that came their way.

As a result, the Royal Challengers’ batting card was a story of what could have been.

Virat Kohli, probably the most consistent performer in limited-overs cricket from the young crop of Indian batsmen, looked comfortable off the front foot and back, but played a pull too many against the right-arm gentle pace of Juan Theron.

AB De Villiers showed little love towards his compatriots before holing out to long leg. Saurabh Tiwary looked to have rediscovered his ability to clear the field at will before failing to do just that with one slog.

And it was the same story with everyone from Mohammad Kaif and Daniel Vettori right down to Abhimanyu Mithun.

All that became relevant because Gayle went early. A brilliant right-handed overhead catch by Botha running back from mid-on ended his innings and silenced the crowd.

The Jamaican had started off where he left in the fourth season of the Indian Premier League, but did not last long enough to bat the last year's finalists out of the match. That proved decisive.