First and foremost, a winless Royal Challengers Bangalore had to win Monday night’s encounter against Somerset. To stay in contention for a semifinal place, they also had to win big. Riding on the destructive powers of Chris Gayle to put up a tournament high total of 206/6, the home side did just that, recording a 51-run win that left the modest crowd present wanting more and in a mood to return for RCB’s final league game on Wednesday.
Thankfully for RCB, the rains that again hit the areas around the stadium in the afternoon did relent, after which Gayle took over. The RCB opener had threatened to score big earlier in the tournament and on a damp night at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, he exploded. It would have been difficult for anyone to rule what sparkled more, the big man’s eight sixes or the fireworks that followed each massive hit.
Poor Somerset, how they would have rued inviting RCB to bat, though the fact that they dropped Gayle in the very second over when he was on just four, would have felt worse. Gayle (86, 46b, 4×4, 8×6) didn’t punish any one bowler — he smote and smacked them all, to all corners of the ground and over, off the pacers and the many spinners in the Somerset ranks.
For the crowd that had braved heavy afternoon showers, it was a royal treat. Wielding one of the heaviest blades in the business, Gayle simply toyed with the Somerset bowling even as the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary and Mayank Agarwal kept up the aggression at their ends, contributing good cameos. Left with no choice but go for it from the word go, Somerset openers Peter Trego and Craig Kieswetter, who will soon turn out in England colours for the ODI series against India, made a fist of it. Trego (58, 38b, 6×4, 3×6), in particular, had something to be angry about, having been taken for 50 runs from his three overs of medium pace earlier and he smashed Gayle for 22 of the 24 runs that were conceded in one over, the 10th of the innings.
Poor catching and below par bowling initially, save for that man Vettori again, combined with Trego’s firepower, did silence their hoarse supporters for a while.