Once the in-form KL Rahul was dismissed, the big-hitting Gayle had to use very conservative means to ensure his team's bowlers would have something to defend, as the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan and Sam Curran all disappeared back to the hut in quick succession.
The problem of squandering good situations in the game continues to be a worry this season according bowling coach Ryan Harris.
"Once again, we got ourselves into a good position where we can launch but we probably haven't done that. I was speaking to the guys (and felt that) the wicket slowed up a bit through the middle,” said Ryan Harris in the post-match press conference.
“We saw that with the way Chris Gayle started and then struggled towards the end. The RCB bowlers adapted pretty well and changed the pace on the ball.
"We've been in situations a few times now where we've were four down and we were probably 20 short of where we really should have been. Saying that, it was a pretty good innings from Chris Gayle. I thought he led the team really well (with his batting). To be able to do that, trying to control the middle. I guess we lost a lot of wickets as well during the middle, doesn't really help as it stops the run rate," Harris added.
Given current form, Punjab had the edge while defending a total of 173, but an 85-run second wicket partnership between Kohli and de Villiers stole the show and pretty much had the chase in control even after the former was dismissed.
De Villiers, who finished unbeaten on 59, had paced his knock to perfection and the inconsistency of the Punjab bowlers paved the way for the South African to get the job done.
"The disappointing thing for me is we bowled well in patches. We've had a couple of really good games which I saw as an improvement and then we saw the game out there today (Saturday) where plans that we made were a long way off.
“We got to get back to training and make sure that the bowlers are executing their jobs - that's why they're here, they're world-class bowlers, they got to make sure that they do the job," said Harris, who was understandably disappointed with his bowlers.
Meanwhile, that half of the KXIP side has played for RCB (including Gayle) was a big factor in helping restrict them according to Kohli.
After the match, the visiting skipper pointed out that they were well aware of Gayle’s approach and were prepared for it. Kohli and Gayle, during their stint together at RCB, had put on 2787 runs together.
"We knew Chris (Gayle) was going to bat deep. So (there were) many opportunities to get dot balls. We knew if we bowled decently to him, we might restrict them," Kohli said.
While Kohli was happy to have fewer headaches plotting against opposition batsmen, teammate Marcus Stoinis was only too happy to be in the situation that he was – up against his old employers and trusted with the job of helping RCB over the line for the elusive first win.
Stonis used his knowledge of Mohali and KXIP well and contributed 28 off 16 to the cause alongside de Villiers.
"The fact that I'm pretty familiar with this ground - I've played here for three years - I sort of had a plan on how I wanted to go tonight. But the more comforting fact is batting with someone like AB de Villiers. That makes it a bit easier," said Stoinis.
The Australian also pointed out that one of the major deciding factors in the game was running between the wickets. With a subdued Gayle in the middle for 20 overs, KXIP needed to pick up the running between the wickets, but it finished with only five twos and threes while RCB had 12 during their innings.
"We were just talking about the fact that it doesn't need to be boundaries, make sure we run hard when we hit it to the sweepers on the boundary. The fact that once we did hit a couple of boundaries, all the fielders went right on to the fence and they are long boundaries out there. So we knew that when we didn't hit it out of the middle we still had an option to take two."
Stoinis also praised the bowling attack for being able to keep things under control during the KXIP innings, and said it was important for bowlers to be able to come back even if they get hit around the park in a format like this.
“Our seam bowlers did really well because they got hit early on but all of them brought it back and had good spells and good parts to their bowling. And then our spinners controlled the game in the middle overs.”
“Interestingly, a few of our wickets came after we got hit for sixes, which shows that the team had some good fight in them tonight,” Stoinis signed off.
First Published: April 14, 2019, 9:48 AM IST