Rajasthan Royals have found winning momentum of their own as the pink-clad outfit pulled off a back-to-back high-scoring run chase in IPL 2020. The latest of the win came against play-off rivals Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi on Friday when RR top order fired in solidarity to nullify Chris Gayle’s 63-ball 99 in a seven-wicket win.
The victory over the Kings meant both the sides are now level on points at 12 in the points table with a match to go for each, spicing up the race for the play-off berths as KKR will now sniff a stronger chance after their defeat to Chennai Super Kings. The loss also ended the five-match winning streak of KXIP.
For Royals, the architect of the win was the entire RR batting order as they chipped in with important partnership for every wicket to ensure the scoreboard kept ticking despite wickets falling with Ben Stokes (50 off 26) and Sanju Samson (48 off 24) being the biggest contributions.
Chasing the challenging total, Stokes continued from where he left in the Mumbai Indians game — smashing 107 in a successful 196-run chase — with a 24-ball fifty inside the powerplay with Robin Uthappa contributing 10 runs in the 60-run opening wicket stand.
The English all-rounder shot six boundaries and three sixes before falling to Chris Jordan in the sixth over.
But this hardly provided any respite to KXIP bowlers as in at no.3 Sanju Samson took over from where Stokes left. Uthappa and him scored quick 40 runs in the next four overs as RR crossed 100-run mark at the halfway stage of the innings.
The flashy 51-run stand came to halt in the 11th over when Uthappa (30 off 23) failed to clear the fence over the cover region off Murugan Ashwin.
Samson didn’t let the run rate come down as he continued hitting it clean to reach his fourth fifty of the season in just 26 deliveries. The Kerala right-hander shot three maximums and as many boundaries to reach the mark as he started off another stand with skipper Steve Smith.
The 21-ball 34 stand ended with Samson getting run out by a spectacular direct hit by substitute fielder Suchit from short third man.
But it was too little too late for KXIP, as Smith and newly-in Jos Buttler chase down the remaining 41 runs from 21 balls to spare.
Earlier put into bat first, Chris Gayle was at his destructive best as he marauded his way to 99 and took Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to 185/4 wickets in 20 overs.
The former West Indies captain was denied his 23rd T20 ton when he was bowled by Jofra Archer off the fourth ball of the last over at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Left-handed Gayle hit six fours and eight sixes on his way to 99 off 63 balls. He surpassed 1,000 sixes in the shortest format of the game. He put up a 120-run stand with KL Rahul for the second wicket before a 41-run stand with Nicholas Pooran, in which the latter did much of the scoring.
Gayle then upped the ante when Glenn Maxwell joined him in the middle, getting to 99 with a six over long-on. Archer came back with an inch-perfect yorker that went past his inside edge, hit his pad and ricocheted on to the wicket.
The bat then slipped out of Gayle's hand as he looked to hit the ground with it, before he shook hands with Archer. A win here for KXIP would all but confirm their passage into the playoffs.