May 20, 2016
By MI Media
On the eve of the first playoffs, the two teams from the top of the table faced each other. The Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore faced each other at the Chinnaswamy stadium, as it was their first chance to qualify for the finals. The wicket looked pretty flat and superb to bat on, but RCB won the toss and chose to bowl first.
Gujarat Lions would have fancied their chances batting first on this track, but things changed pretty swiftly. The wicket turned out to be a two-paced, and the Lions were tottering at 9/3. It was Iqbal Abdulla who was the chief wrecker as he sent back both the openers in the same over. Shane Watson delivered the third blow with a bouncer to Raina. GL were in all sorts of trouble when Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik started the rebuilding process by taking the ones and twos. After settling, in Dwayne Smith started playing his shots freely. He went after Yuzvendra Chahal and then after Abdulla. Smith soon registered his fifty and kept going on with his game until Chahal got his retribution, as he sent back Smith. Eklavya Dwivedi and Dhawal Kulkarni ended the GL innings with a flourish as they managed to reach the score of 158.
GL had one of the best starts when Dhawal Kulkarni sent back Virat Kohli for a duck. The form Kohli was in, no one expected it. The RCB top order collapsed like a house of cards, thanks to a brilliant spell of fast bowling from Kulkarni. He picked up four wickets to leave RCB reeling at 31/5 at the end of the powerplay. It was an uphill task for AB de Villiers who stuck it out at the other end. He got together, first with Stuart Binny and then with Iqbal Abdulla to rebuild the chase. The left arm tweaker was more than handy with the bat as he supported AB well. De Villiers kept his composure as he went on to score a match-winning 79. He first ensured RCB didn't lose any further wickets and then later did well to stitch a crucial partnership of 91 runs with Abdulla 33(25) to chase down the total and be the first team to qualify for the finals.