Vintage Gilchrist and Mahmood down RCB
Adam Gilchrist and Azhar Mahmood combined to power Kings XI Punjab to a 7 wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday evening. The win prolonged Kings XI’s stay in the tournament, also keeping RCB’s hunt for a spot in the play-offs alive.
RCB’s poor run at the toss continued with Kohli losing his 7th toss on the row and being put in to bat first. Wholesale changes were made to the side with KL Rahul, Muttiah Muralitharan, Arun Karthik and Zaheer Khan replacing Saurabh Tiwary, Kartik Murali, Ravi Rampaul and Abhimanyu Mithun.
The start was tentative with the pitch acting a touch slower than the usual Chinnaswamy pitch. Cheteshwar Pujara took on the onus of getting early boundaries while Gayle got his eye in. Punjab’s bowlers bowled very tight lines and restricted singles, by the time Pujara (19 20b 3x4) was gone off the first ball of the fifth over, he had faced 20 of the 25 deliveries bowled.
Awana had Gayle in a difficult situation when he was on 8 but the LBW appeal was turned down. Virat Kohli and Gayle then remained cautious, reaching for not more than a boundary an over to take RCB to 52/1 at the halfway mark. Kohli was on a run-a-ball 16 then, Gayle on a more sedate 17 off 24b. Cue acceleration.
Kohli broke the shackles, dancing down the track to hit Piyush Chawla for the first six of the innings in the 12th over. Gayle joined him, slamming Gony over long on in the 13th before hitting him for three consecutive sixes in the 15th over.
The pair added 136 (89) for the second wicket, aided by a reprieve for Kohli when he was caught at deep midwicket off a no ball from Azhar Mahmood. Parwinder Awana bowled a good 19th over, conceding 14 runs off it but getting two yorkers right to bowl both Gayle (77 53b 4x4 6x6) and AB de Villiers (6, 2b), the latter gone while trying another scoop.
Punjab managed two wickets in the last over, Mahmood finally getting Kohli (57 43b 6x4 2x6) but KL Rahul smashed him two for fours before he was caught at deep square leg, ending RCB’s innings on 174/5.
A hint of what was to come was there in the first over when Adam Gilchrist drove a full delivery from Zaheer on off with absolute ease. Zaheer (1/30) struck back for RCB, bowling Shaun Marsh (8 4b) with a peach in his next over.
Mahmood was promoted to no. 3 and after two quiet overs, broke free with three consecutive fours off Henriques in the 6th over. Muttiah Muralitharan then came into the attack and immediately had Gilchrist trapped LBW but it was to be the second big howler of the game when he was denied.
Gilchrist kept edging, nudging and missing but carried on with Mahmood. They found release in overs from Unadkat (1/34), Muralitharan (1/44) and Vinay. With the pressure on, RCB were guilty of mistakes on the field, allowing batsmen runs even when they couldn’t find the gaps. Mahmood nearly caught up with Gilchrist, prompting the Aussie to up his scoring with slog swept sixes off Muralitharan.
Sustained hitting saw the required rate dip from more than 9 to 8.66 before a massive 17 run over from Muralitharan saw the required rate fall to 7. The pair added 118 off 77b for the second wicket, jogging Punjab towards the total.
Jaydev Unadkat finally got rid of Mahmood (61 41b 8x4 1x6) in the 16th over and Muralitharan dismissed David Miller in the next over but Punjab needed only 13 more by then.
R Sathish brought up the winning runs as Punjab posted 176/3, sealing a 7 wicket win. Gilchrist finished his match and Man of the Match winning performance on an unbeaten 85* (54b 10x4 3x6).
The loss means RCB will have to beat Chennai on Saturday and still depend on the results of the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab’s remaining games to go their way to seal a spot in the play offs.