'Weather Fourcast - it will rain sixes', went one clever banner at the packed Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday evening. That particular forecast didn't prove as right as the one the weathermen had come up with, what with rain midway through the Kolkata Knight Riders innings halting the match for 128 minutes, but the fan wasn't far off. How could he have been with Chris Gayle around.
With Royal Challengers Bangalore set 102 (on D/L method) to get from the reduced 13 overs after KKR had made 89 for 4 from their 13, the onus was on Gayle and yet again he didn't disappoint. Four boundaries off Brett Lee's opening over, followed by two sixes and a boundary off the hapless Jaydev Unadkat meant that the chase was off to a perfect start.
Unlike in earlier games, Gayle (38, 12b, 6x4, 2x6) didn't survive until the end but in his typical whirlwind style, he had done enough to ensure that it was smooth sailing for the hosts. With the four-wicket win, that came about with three balls (it was far more comfortable than what the figures suggest), RCB sealed their last four spot. Now they can attempt to position themselves higher, while KKR will still need to pull off a win to ensure their first over entry into the last four.
In the evening, long before the rain interruption, KKR, having been inserted by Virat Kohli, simply couldn't take off. The RCB bowlers didn't just bowl a tight length, they also picked up wickets quickly. They were on fire on the field too, especially AB de Villiers. The catch he pouched at point to dismiss Gautam Gambhir off S Arvind was the best example of the RCB effort.
The momentum to the KKR innings was at long last provided by the man best suited to do so. Had the rain not interrupted his essay, Yusuf Pathan may have caused more damage then he ultimately did. He started with a six over long on off Abhimanyu Mithun and then took 11 off Chris Gayle's lone over, which featured another huge six towards the same area.
The second six also brought the rain down and from there on a total of 128 minutes were lost, 70 of which was made up thanks to the rule that allows a match to be extended by one hour. Cutting the 20-minute break down to half the length meant that the final tally of lost overs was only 14.
Kohli took the onus on himself to bowl one of the two remaining overs, perhaps in an attempt to take the pace off the ball but conceded 14 to give KKR a handy restart. But RCB's death overs specialist Charl Langeveldt, who had started well too, conceding a mere 8 from his first two overs, came on to not only dismiss Pathan, he also gave away a just two runs from his first five balls. Only the four byes let go by wicketkeeper Arun Karthik off the final ball served to provide KKR some respite.
The respite lasted all off 10 minutes for after that Gayle was on with his big, broad blade in hand. By the time he left, caught attempting what else but another heave, the Orange Cap was his as also the record for most number of sixes in a single IPL season.