Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell kept Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League playoff hunt with a resounding eight-wicket win over the first-place Gujarat Titans on Thursday.
Kohli notched his season-best of 73 and Maxwell smashed an unbeaten 43 off just 18 balls as Bangalore cruised to 170-2 with eight balls to spare in its last league game.
Gujarat, already assured of the No. 1 place with 20 points, had earlier made 168-5 after captain Hardik Pandya won the toss and scored 68 not out off 47 balls.
Bangalore, currently fourth, finished the league stage with 16 points but its playoff status awaits the results of other games.
Maxwell said they’ll be watching the Mumbai Indians vs. Delhi Capitals game “pretty closely” on Sunday. Delhi (14 points) will miss the playoffs if it loses to last-place Mumbai.
“We feel like we deserve to be in the final four and hopefully Mumbai will do the right thing by us and get us into the final four,” Maxwell said.
Kohli had scored only 236 runs in the previous 13 games with just one half-century. But the former Bangalore captain finally came good with his trademark cover drives and on drives against an opposition that has had a dream run in its debut IPL season.
Luck also favored Kohli inside the batting powerplay when on 16 Rashid Khan misjudged a catch at deep midwicket as the ball rolled over for a boundary. Kohli raised his half-century off 42 balls with a six over midwicket against Rashid and provided Bangalore a solid start of 115 with skipper Faf du Plessis, who made 44.
Rashid picked up both wickets as du Plessis top-edged a sweep against the leg-spinner and Kohli was undone by a sharp googly and got stumped in the 17th over. Kohli’s half-century featured eight fours and two sixes.
Maxwell could have been out first ball, but Rashid’s sharp delivery didn’t dislodge the bails and went for four byes after hitting the leg stump before the Australian blazed five fours and two sixes and carried Bangalore home.
Earlier, Pandya revived Gujarat’s innings with a gritty half-century and Rashid continued to impress with his big hitting this season with a cameo of 19 off just six balls.
Bangalore missed Harshal Patel in the death overs after the fast bowler left the field with a split webbing in his bowling hand after trying to stop the ball in the infield in the 13th over.
Rashid and Pandya hammered 34 off the final 12 balls as fast bowler Siddarth Kaul ended up with 0-43 while Josh Hazlewood, who took 2-39, also conceded 17 off the final over.