BANGALORE, India, CMC – Snubbed by West Indies selectors in recent months, talismanic opener Chris Gayle once again reiterated his immense value, unleashing a scintillating 92 to propel Royal Challengers Bangalore into the Champions League Twenty20 final here yesterday.
David Warner’s amazing 123 not out fired New South Wales to 203 for two off their 20 overs and had seemed to put the Australian side in the driver’s seat.
However, the mercurial Gayle answered with a breathtaking display of power-hitting, carving out eight fours and eight sixes, as RCB romped home by six wickets to win with eight balls to spare at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The knock was Gayle’s second half-century in the tournament where he has scored 252 runs at an average of 50.
His brilliance was required after Warner belted six fours and a remarkable 11 sixes, to fuel NSW’s innings with his 68-ball knock.
The Australian posted a frenetic 146 for the second wicket with Daniel Smith whose 62 came from 42 balls and was laced with seven fours and three sixes.
Their effort left RCB with a mountain to climb but Gayle’s opening blitz gave notice the contest was on.
Tillakaratne Dilshan perished for four in the third over but Gayle dominated a 141-run, second wicket stand off 66 balls with Virat Kohli who saw RCB home with an unbeaten 84 from 49 balls.
Gayle, left out of the Windies tour of Bangladesh this month, opened his account with two boundaries in the second over bowled by left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc before taking a turn in medium pacer Stuart Clark, striking the right-armer for a four and a six that sailed over deep mid-wicket.
Fast bowler Pat Cummins, who finished with four for 45, then suffered at Gayle’s hands in an over that cost 22 as the Jamaican left-hander cracked two fours and two sixes.
Moving into high gear, Gayle greeted left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe’s first over with a six and two fours as the seventh over of the innings went for 17, and the former West Indies captain reached 50 off just 20 balls.
The carnage continued and Gayle seemed set to reach triple figures when he played back and across to Cummins and was lbw in the 14th over at 162 for two.
RCB had a few anxious moments thereafter but Kohli, who stroked 10 fours and three sixes, ensured there was no unwanted late drama.
In tomorrow’s final, Gayle and RCB will face the winner of today’s semi-final between English county Somerset and Kieron Pollard’s Mumbai Indians.