Mohali: Kings XI Punjab required another match-saving innings from David Miller to spare their blushes as the left-hander from South Africa smashed an unbeaten 101 off just 38 balls to help his side chase down a massive 191-run target and deny Royal Challengers Bangalore a chance to ensure a playoff berth.
Miller, who made an 80 not out against Pune Warriors to take his side home a few matches back, came like a storm as he annihilated the RCB bowlers, smashing eight fours and eight massive sixes.
Chasing a massive score, Shaun Marsh (6) departed early for the hosts as he was caught by AB de Villiers off Ravi Rampaul. Mandeep Singh failed once again when he was caught behind off Vinay Kumar for just 16. Murali Kartik was brilliant in the middle overs for RCB as he chipped in with the wickets of Gurkeerat Singh (20) and David Hussey (13).
Miller had come into this match after back-to-back fifties and he was not ready to give in easily. He started his six-hitting spree with a huge one off Kartik and then smashed massive hits off Vinay Kumar and RP Singh. While he took 16 runs off Vinay's third over, he smashed RP Singh for 26 in his third over.
But Miller's innings was not chanceless as Kohli dropped him when he was on 41 and he took the lifeline with both ends. He and Rajagopal Sathish shared an unbroken 130 runs in 49 balls, which included a mind-boggling 99 runs between the 14th to 18th overs. He ended the six-wicket victory fittingly, depositing Chris Gayle over the sight screen. Miller's innings also dwarfed the effort by Chris Gayle and Co. earlier in the innings.
After his once-in-a-life-time 175* knock against Pune Warriors a few matches back, Gayle was getting starts - 18 against Mumbai Indians and 34 against Rajasthan Royals and 21 in a return leg against Pune - but not a big score, but in Mohali he exploded once again, smashing the ball the way he does most of the times.
Respecting the greenish nature of the wicket, Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara - who was playing his first game this season - took little bit of time to set, but both took their innings forward in a contrasting fashions. While Pujara was fluent - cutting, driving and pulling - Gayle was unconventional, hitting big shots from the crease.
The RCB innings got going in the first over by Michael Neser, who was playing his first game for Punjab, when Pujara put him over cover for four and then Gayle thumped him for two huge sixes.
Gayle's 61 came off 33 balls with nine boundaries and three sixes, while Pujara scored 51 off 48 balls with eight boundary shots as the two shared 102 runs for the opening wicket.
Manpreet Gony bowled both Gayle and Pujara, while Virat Kohli (14) too went cheaply, but de Villiers ensured that the good start did not go waste as he smashed four fours and two sixes in his 19-ball 38.
Although legspinner Piyush Chawla bowled well, he was unlucky as he troubled the batsmen with his guile but couldn't take any wicket.