AB, Gayle blitz RCB past Kings XI Punjab
Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers delivered a 5 wicket win for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, putting together 131 runs for the 4th wicket to chase down the total of 163/6 set by Kings XI Punjab at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday night.
The partnership made all the difference for the Royal Challengers coming in between two mini collapses, the first two wickets fell with just 8 on the board and the third fell with the score at 25 while Gayle’s departure with the score on 156 was immediately succeeded by the dismissal of de Villiers.
Andrew McDonald and Daniel Vettori scored the required 6 runs to quell doubts and give RCB their third and much needed victory in the tournament.
Kings XI rookie Parvinder Awana (4/34) had Mayank Agarwal plumb LBW and snagging Virat Kohli thanks to a brilliant catch from Shaun Marsh at point to leave RCB reeling at 8/2 in 2 overs. Saurabh Tiwary was taken by surprise in Awana’s third over and a top edge off a short ball saw RCB slide to 25/3.
An unusually subdued Gayle and de Villiers then stitched together the superbly paced partnership that won them the game, working the field and running hard when required, dismissing the field and hitting out when it became imperative.
Despite Awana’s breakthroughs, Gayle went after him towards the end of his first spell while de Villiers attacked the other KXIP domestic bowler, Harmeet Singh. In between they rode out good overs from Azhar Mahmood, Piyush Chawla (1/21) and Praveen Kumar, determined to cash in when they were set and content with the hard work till then. It paid off as the duo added 131 in just 75 balls, the biggest partnership for any wicket this season.
de Villiers reverse slogged Mahmood and Chawla once set while Gayle attacked all bowlers and reserved special treatment for Awana in his final over of the game. Their dismissals within 6 deliveries of each other and a superb penultimate over from Chawla couldn’t turn the game decisively towards Punjab, RCB posting 166/5 in 19.3 overs to overhaul the target of 163/6.
The size of the target they had to chase was itself due to a substantial knock from Azhar Mahmood on his IPL debut. Playing without Dilshan and Appanna, RCB still prised out KXIP wickets at regular intervals, negating dangerous players like Paul Valthaty, Shaun Marsh (26 off 17b), David Miller and David Hussey (41 off 34b) to leave them staggering at 105/5 in the 15th over.
The highly experienced Azhar Mahmood (33* off 14b), playing in place of injured skipper Adam Gilchrist proved his T20 chops by slamming Harshal Patel (1/44) and Vinay Kumar (1/40) to push them past the 130-140 total they seemed destined to post. Zaheer Khan and Andrew McDonald (2/25 each) provided the first four wickets in their spells while Patel stuck to his guns to dismiss David Hussey in the 15th over.
Mahmood’s clean striking saw him add 44 off 25 for the sixth wicket with Mandeep Singh and despite a wicket off the first ball, Vinay Kumar’s final over of the innings still went for 14 and saw them reach 163/6.
Gayle was on 23 off 25 at one point in the chase, he ran hard to push himself to 30 off 28 before cutting lose to eventually reach 87 off 56 with 4 sixes and 8 fours on a greenish pitch. AB proved the perfect foil, motoring along at a good rate before unleashing his innovative reverse slogs to seal the deal for RCB with his 52 off 39b.
5 teams are tied on 6 points each with RCB lowest on net run rate, their next aim will be to add to that alongwith 2 points every game as the tournament enters the business end.