Bengaluru: Shubman Gill reaffirmed his status as Virat Kohli’s heir apparent with a magnificent hundred as Gujarat Titans knocked Royal Challengers Bangalore out of IPL with a six-wicket win, allowing Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians to sneak through as the fourth team in the play-offs, here on Sunday.
After Kohli scored a 61-ball 101 in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 197 for five, it looked like the best effort on the day but Gill, who will be the torchbearer of Indian batting for the next 10 years, showed that he is better than the best.
What Kohli did well, Gill did that better as his unbeaten 104 off 52 balls saw Titans chase down the target with elan.
Like former India captain Kohli, this was Gill’s second successive hundred.
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Gill slammed eights sixes and five fours.
Titans thus finished the league engagements with 20 points while CSK ended second with 17 points ahead of Lucknow Super Giants due to better net run-rate. Mumbai Indians, after their eight-wicket win against SRH, were back in the last four with 16 points.
With 34 needed off three overs, Gill’s short-arm half-jab, half-pull off Mohammed Siraj was the killer blow, and then he hit him for another six to kill the contest as Kohli knocked his head in disbelief in the dugout.
RCB had their fate in their own hands but poor execution while defending a healthy total became their undoing.
Gill was outstanding in his touch-play against pacers with that extra split second to play his shots while the regal footwork against leg-spinner Himanshu Sharma was a connoisseur’s delight.
The pick-up flick behind square off Michael Bracewell’s off-break was easily the shot of the night, which was followed by a monster hit over long-on.
Gill had an able ally in Vijay Shankar (53 off 35 balls). The duo added 123 runs for the second wicket as Gujarat Titans didn’t let the intensity down for even one moment.
The difference between Gill’s match-winning knock and Kohli’s effort was the support at the other end. While Kohli was left to do all the heavy-lifting, Gill found support at the other end.
Also RCB had multiple weak links in their bowling unit and Gill very cleverly targeted the slow bowlers with leg-spinner Himanshu and off-spinner Bracewell in their four overs giving away 44 runs while 40 came off inexperienced Vijaykumar Vyshak’s spell.
Earlier, Kohli was the lone ranger as his second successive century powered Royal Challengers Bangalore to a challenging total after being put into bat first.
With the rain gods threatening to spoil RCB’s play-offs plans during the day, the match that started half an hour late saw Kohli bring back his 2016 avatar. He held all the aces during his knock that had 13 fours and a six.
His innings was priceless in the context that none of the other RCB batters could even reach 30 and just like the good old days, ‘King Kohli’ set the narrative by playing with line, length and minds of the bowlers.
This is his seventh IPL hundred and he has now surpassed Chris Gayle as the batter with highest number of tournament tons.
Considering that the Chinnaswamy Stadium is known for batting belters, the final total, though competitive enough, was certainly 10-15 runs below par.
Kohli and skipper Faf Du Plessis (28) got off to a rollicking start, with a flurry of boundaries against Mohammed Shami (1/39 in 4 overs) and the already distraught Yash Dayal in the powerplay.
They were dispatched for as many as nine boundaries which prompted Hardik Pandya to quickly press his main weapon, Rashid Khan (1/24 in 4 overs), into action to stem the flow of runs.
After conceding 62 runs in six powerplay overs, Rashid and his ‘left-arm mirror image’ Noor Ahmed (2/39 in 4 overs) put the brakes on the scoring.
Noor dismissed du Plessis while he tried to hit him inside in a freakish manner. The edge hit Wriddhiman Saha’s pads and lobbed up for Rahul Tewatia to complete an easy catch.
Glenn Maxwell started off well but Rashid bowled one that was fast and full and just broke back enough to breach the defence of the batter as RCB suddenly found themselves in a rut.
It became worse when Noor dragged Mahipal Lomror with one that turned the other way and Saha completed a leg-side stumping with the finesse that is associated with him for years now.
Michael Bracewell (26), however, took some pressure off Kohli at the other end with Mohit Sharma’s slower balls not working well on this occasion.
In his first three overs, he was hit for seven fours and it was Shami who got Bracewell before he could inflict more damage and Dayal had something finally going for him when Dinesh Karthik’s woeful season got worse.
But Kohli continued to fight.