Gujarat Lions breathed life into their Indian Premier League campaign with a dominant seven-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore, whose dire season continued on Thursday. (HIGHLIGHTS | FULL SCORECARD)
The departure of Gujarat Lions openers Ishan Kishan (16) and Brendon McCullum (3) offered Royal Challengers some hope, with the loss of the big-hitting New Zealander, caught by AB de Villiers off Samuel Badree at long-on, particularly encouraging. (STANDINGS)
Aaron Finch, though, promptly took control of the contest, racing to a match-winning 72 off 34 deliveries, including five boundaries and six maximums.
Pawan Negi eventually dislodged the Australian, but the damage was already done, as unbeaten captain Suresh Raina (34 not out) was joined by Ravindra Jadeja (2 not out) to finish the job with a luxurious 37 balls remaining.
The result means GL can still harbour realistic hopes of forcing their way into the top four, but the lacklustre challenge of RCB, second bottom in the standings, is now all but over.
Earlier, after a tentative start, RCB suffered a trio of near fatal blows, losing Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and Travis Head in the space of five balls.
Skipper Virat Kohli was the first to depart, a poor shot picking out Finch at short fine leg off Basil Thampi’s unremarkable delivery to see the star India batsman return to the pavilion for just 10.
Gayle (8) followed swiftly, edging Andrew Tye’s superb line and length ball to Dinesh Karthik. The impressive Tye (3-12) repeated the feat with his next delivery to get Head out for a duck.
Kedar Jadhav (31) undid some good work with an ill-advised late cut attempt off an arrow-straight ball from Jadeja (2-28).
And when remaining specialist De Villiers (5) was run out after a mix-up with Mandeep Singh, RCB’s fate was effectively sealed.
The only other real resistance was offered, temporarily, by Negi (32) but, after hitting a crowd-pleasing six, a second successive Ankit Soni (1-28) googly proved too tempting, the debutant earning his first T20 wicket thanks to a Thampi catch at deep midwicket.