The inclusion of Chris Gayle against Royal Challengers Bangalore resulted in the reversal of fortune for Kings XI Punjab as they thrashed Virat Kohli’s side by eight wickets. While skipper KL Rahul remained unbeaten at 61, Gayle, who was playing his first match in the IPL 2020, made 53.
Batting first Royal Challengers Bangalore put up a total of 171-6 in 20 overs with Virat Kohli playing the captain’s knock of 48 in 39 balls. He was unlucky to not have scored another half-century.
Murugan Ashwin and Mohammad Shami shared two wickets each even though the latter went for plenty of runs in his last over.
Punjab’s run-chase started on a defensive note. However, there was no looking back once Rahul and Mayank Agarwal began to freely hit the bowlers from Royal Challengers Bangalore. Together, both of them added 76 runs in 8 overs for the first wicket. Agarwal’s departure at 45 in 25 balls brought Gayle to the crease. Even though he looked sluggish in the beginning, the West Indian veteran batsman upped the ante, scoring his first fifty of the season in just 37 balls. Incidentally, Rahul too took as many balls to complete his yet another fifty.
Although Kings XI Punjab nearly lost another match from the jaws of victory, Nicholas Pooran came as the saving grace, who hit the last ball from Yuzvendra Chahal for a six to win the match for his side. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle needed to score just two runs off the last six balls, but they appeared to develop cold feet and made the target 1 off the last one ball after Gayle was run out for 53. Pooran came to bat to face the last ball of the match and, much to the comfort of Kings XI Punjab, he hit it for a huge six.
Kings XI Punjab have been unlucky to lose several matches in the competition despite having a good start with experts calling them chokers. However, the arrival of Gayle on Thursday showed that the team from Punjab could well have regained their form and may pose threats to their opponents in the competition.
Reacting to his side’s defeat, Kohli said, “It was quite surprising, we thought the game might finish in the 18th. A bit of pressure at the back end can confuse you, anything can happen in this game. Good performance by KXIP, we were not in the game tonight. We had a chat, a message from outside about left-right combination and we wanted to go with it because they had two leggies. Sometimes things don’t come off. We’re pretty happy with the decisions we took, but it didn’t come off. Having 170 was a decent score. The idea was to let them to get their eye in. They bowled well. It’s not a great ground for bowlers but that’s not an excuse. We take pride in our bowling. tonight it didn’t come off and we have to accept it and take responsibility. There’s always something to learn to go back and understand. There was no conversation with Chahal to be honest. The only conversation was with the last ball, we wanted him to push it away. Credit to Nicholas.”
Rahul, who was adjudged Man Of The Match, said, “I don’t even have words. We knew that we had to scrap and get over the line once and that would give us confidence. We’re a far better side than bottom of the table. Towards the end it got too close for comfort but happy that we made it. It’s very natural to feel disappointed and frustrated and it’s not just me, as a group we’ve been frustrated. Our skills were very good, probably didn’t capitalise in the big moments starting with the first game at Delhi. It’s part of the IPL, it’s part of cricket. There are ups and downs and this has been the kind of rollercoaster that’s been crazy but on a positive note we needed this win. At the moment, my first time as captain, you kind of don’t reflect on your own performance. As a leader you need to think of everybody and how to manage the 15 or the 25 balanced and hungry to do well. That’s been the challenge so personal performances haven’t been on my mind so much. Chris has nott been feeling well but he’s always been hungry. Anyone who saw him, he was training hard like he’s probably never done. It was a tough call to make not to play someone like that. I won’t take credit but it’s important to keep the lion hungry sometimes. Wherever he bats, he’s still the same player and it worked today. Hopefully, he can carry on.”
This was the second victory for Kings XI Punjab in the ongoing IPL championship. Incidentally, their last victory too had come against Virat Kohli’s side. In that match too, Rahul was the highest scorer for his side as he registered the highest IPL score of 132 by an Indian.