Kings XI Punjab have started their revival of the season while sticking to their strengths in a 8–wicket win over against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore with a ball to spare in Sharjah on Thursday.
The victory was down to some valiant fifties by Chris Gayle (54 runs off 45 balls) and KL Rahul (62 off 49), who tore into RCB bowlers from the word while turning a challenging 172 in a piece of cake on a sluggish surface.
While Gayle turned out to be team’s lucky charm with his classic ‘Universal Boss’ knock; hitting his fifty in just 36 balls, KL Rahul plays the sheet anchor in the win with a partnership of 78 for the opening wicket with Mayank Agarwal (45 off 25) and then took the side home with the burly Jamaican.
The game did saw some last-over drama when Yuzvendra Chahal, while defending 2 runs of the last over, provided four dot balls including the wicket of Gayle but a last-ball six from Nicholas Pooran took the side home.
They certainly spoilt Virat Kohli’s party as the RCB skipper was playing his 200th match on the night and missed on a half-century by just 2 runs in his 39-ball 48.
Chasing RCB’s 172, KXIP made the most out of the powerplays with Rahul and Mayank Agarwal bringing up 50 runs before the fielding restriction was relaxed.
The duo scored 78 runs in the first eight overs, smashing five 6s and as many 4s, to provide the strong start in the chase with Mayank doing most of the damage with his 25-ball 45. His inning came to an end with RCB’s dependable Yuzvendra Chahal disturbing the furniture to provide the breakthrough.
The run flow expectedly came down for a while with Mayank’s departure but the excitement remained with 41-year-old Chris Gayle coming in to bat first time for the season.
KL Rahul soon burdened the responsibility of scoring as he started it off with two sixes off Mohammed Siraj in the 12th over.
However, Gayle then joined the party and took the burden of his captain with some brisk hitting on a ground that was too small for his stature. This allowed Rahul to settle into his preferred sheet anchor role as he saw Gayle do most of the hammering.
The duo put up a 50-run stand of just 36 balls, Gayle scoring 35 of them, spewing three sixes and a four, to quickly take the game away from RCB.
Earlier batting first, RCB started strongly with 38 runs in the first four overs with Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch looking to put pressure on KXIP bowlers. The dangerous-looking partnership came to a fold in the fifth over with Arshdeep Singh removing Padikkal (18 off 12).
Virat Kohli tried not to let the initiative fade away with back-to-back boundaries off Arshdeep but Murugan Ashwin clean bowled Aaron Finch (20 off 18) of a sharp turn from the other end to put the pressure right back at RCB, who were now reeling at 63/2 in 7 overs.
This had its impact on RCB’s run flow with next three overs saw no boundaries with Kohli sharing the pitch with no.4 Washington Sundar. The pressure soon got on the Sundar (13 off 14) as he miscued Ashwin’s googly against the turn to Chris Jordan over long-on with 85 runs on board.
Kohli then had a crucial fourth-wicket 42-run stand with Shivam Dubey (23 off 19) as AB de Villiers was preserved for the end. Dube fetched 19 runs in the 15th over off Ravi Bishnoi to set the platform for ABD before falling to Chris Jordan.
The plan didn’t pan out the way RCB wanted as Shami removed De Villiers (2 off 5) and Virat Kohli (48 off 39) respectively while giving away just four runs, in the 18th over to turn the tide in KXIP’s favour.
However, the last over by Shami fetched 24 runs as Chris Morris (25 off 8) and Isuru Udana (10 off 5) took RCB to 171/6. Shami, along with Ashiwn’s 2/23, was still among the most successful KXIP bowler on the day with two wickets to his name.