|October 16, 2020||IANS/GloFans - Sharjah|
A class act by Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) batsmen powered them to a much-needed win, a thumping eight-wicket verdict against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Thursday, but not before they made it difficult for themselves and won off the very last ball of the game.
This was KXIP's just second win from eight games, and despite the outcome the KL Rahul-led side languishes at the bottom of the eight-team standings. On the other hand, RCB remain static at their third spot with 10 points in their kitty.
Interestingly, both KXIP wins have come against the RCB. On September 24, KXIP had handed a 97-run hammering to the Virat Kohli-led side in Dubai.
After restricting RCB to a moderate 171/6 wickets on a batting-friendly track at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, KXIP rode skipper KL Rahul (61 not out) and Chris Gayle (53) half-centuries, along with opener Mayank Agarwal's blistering 45 to overhaul the target. They finished at 177 for two wickets in 20 overs.
Chasing the 172-run target, KXIP were off to a flying start as Rahul and Agarwal once again did what they been doing so far, adding 56 runs in the initial six overs.
Just when KXIP were approaching the three-digit mark, Yuzvendra Chahal came with a much needed breakthrough for RCB, dismissing a well-settled Mayank in the eighth over with Punjab's scorecard reading 78/1.
Agarwal's knock contained four boundaries and three maximums. The joy was, however, short-lived for RCB as Chris Gayle (53), who had missed the previous games, joined his skipper in the middle and the duo ensured their opponents couldn't make any further inroads.
Gayle and Rahul shared a crucial 93-run partnership for the second wicket, steering their side closer towards a much-needed win.
However, just when KXIP leveled the score with a ball remaining, Gayle fell short of the crease and AB de Villiers did no mistake to cut short his stay, adding another twist to the contest.
Nicholas Pooran (6 not out), however, sealed a victory for KXIP, smashing Chahal for a maximum over the long-on boundary.
Both Rahul and Gayle's innings was laced with five massive hits into the stands and a boundary each.
Earlier, Kohli's 48 along with some valuable contributions by Chris Morris (25) and Shivam Dube (23) took RCB to 171/6.
Despite a good start, thanks to openers Aaron Finch (20) and Devdutt Padikkal (18), RCB kept losing wickets at regular intervals once the duo departed.
RCB's last match hero AB de Villiers, who was demoted to No.6 while Washington Sundar (13) and Dube were sent ahead of him, could manage two runs before falling.
It was Morris and Isuru Udana (10 not out) who gathered some runs towards the end to help their side cross the 150-run mark and post an fighting total.
Brief scores: KXIP 177/2 wkts in 20 overs (KL Rahul 61 not out, Chris Gayle 53; Yuzvendra Chahal 1/35) beat RCB 171/6 wkts in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 48, Chris Morris 25; Murugan Ashwin 2/23) by 8 wickets