Chris Gayle blasted an unbeaten 64-ball 99 against his former team, but it was still not enough as Virat Kohli-AB de Villiers special led Royal Challengers Bangalore to an eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab - their first of the season - in Mohali on Saturday (April 13) to get them on board the IPL points table 2019.
Asked to bat, Gayle slammed 10 fours and five maximums in his knock and played a key role in helping Punjab finish on 173 for 4 in 20 overs. In reply, Kohli crafted a free-flowing 53-ball 67, but it was de Villiers (38-ball 59*) and Marcus Stoinis (16-ball 28*) who delivered the knock out blow and helped Bangalore break their six-match losing streak.
Umesh Yadav was able to generate decent amount of movement off the surface and that troubled Gayle at the start, but that didn't stop him from playing his natural game. The left-hander from Jamaica went after the Indian paceman in his second over but it was in the final over of the powerplay when he went berserk. Gayle carved Mohammed Siraj for 4, 6, 4, 6 and 4 to accumulate 24 runs off the over and ensured his team were off to a flying start.
While Gayle displayed his usual hitting prowess, KL Rahul ensured the left-hander had most of the strike. Rahul, however, tried opening his shoulders by welcoming Yuzvendra Chahal with a six down the ground but the legspinner got his revenge on the very next delivery, getting the right-hander stumped for 15-ball 18. Chahal, along with Moeen Ali, then choked Gayle in the middle overs and didn't allow him to go for big shots.
Just like Rahul, Mayank Agarwal (15) and Sarfaraz Khan (15) smashed a six each but got out in the very next ball.
While Agarwal was knocked over by a ripper from Chahal, Sarfaraz became Siraj's only victim. Apart from this wicket, Siraj had a horrible day, leaking 54 runs in his four overs.
With wickets falling at the other end, it also affected Gayle's charge and it looked evident that the 39-year-old was looking to bat till the end. Navdeep Saini (0 for 23) too was able to keep Gayle quiet but the big-hitting opener found his groove back in the second last over when he tonked Umesh for a 4 and 6.
Gayle was also offered two reprieves and he made the most of it.
Despite hitting two fours in the final over, Gayle couldn't bring up his seventh IPL century and became only the second batsman to end on 99 not out in the IPL after Suresh Raina.
In response, Parthiv Patel and Kohli came out all guns blazing and played some delightful shots in their 43-run stand. The two didn't allow any bowler to settle in, but that's when R Ashwin took the matters into his own hands and had Parthiv caught at long off for 9-ball 19.
Coming in at No. 3, de Villiers, alongside Kohli, took the attack to Punjab's best bowler Mohammed Shami and played some solid shots through the rise. The duo batted very smartly against two Ashwins and didn't take any unnecessary risks.
In the process, Kohli brought up his half-century and the kept the scoreboard moving with ones, twos and occasional boundaries. Needing 48 runs in 30 balls, it looked like an easy job for the two batsmen, before Kohli hammered one straight into the hands of M Ashwin at deep mid-wicket off Shami's bowling.
Shami's 4-run over was followed by a yet another economical over from R Ashwin and the equation soared to 38 off 18 balls. Stoinis then hit Andrew Tye for two consecutive fours before de Villiers slapped one over extra cover to make things slightly simpler for the visiting side.
Punjab were still in the game but Stoinis and de Villiers accumulated 14 runs off Shami's over, including latter's trademark six over backward square leg, before the Australian all-rounder wrapped things up in the first two deliveries of the last over.
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