KXIP inflicts season’s first home defeat on host
Adam Gilchrist delivered a timely reminder of his forgotten abilities, demonstrating that if not lord over a cricket match, he could still do enough to dictate its course.
The Australian’s unbeaten 85 and his wonderfully unruffled 118-run alliance with Azhar Mahmood, led Kings XI Punjab to a resounding seven-wicket win at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Tuesday, keeping its IPL playoff challenge flickering, if barely.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s first defeat at home all season leaves its hopes of progression hanging by a thread. Half-centuries from Chris Gayle (77) and Virat Kohli (57) had helped the home side, inserted in to bat after losing the toss for the fourth game in a row, to a score of 174.
But Gilchrist and Mahmood — their combined age nudging 80 — orchestrated the run chase in splendid fashion, taking Punjab home with 11 balls to spare.
Gilchrist had hitherto had an unquestionably poor season; the captain sat out three games before restoring himself to the team last week. There will be few remarks over his form for some time now, though.
Mahmood and he, united at the crease after Shaun Marsh’s early departure, cut and drove efficiently, picking gaps with surgical precision. Gilchrist looked unconvincing to begin with but gradually found his feet.
He raised his 50 with a corking, straight-driven six off Zaheer Khan; Muttiah Muralitharan suffered next, conceding two big sixes. Mahmood, recalled to the side in place of David Hussey, fell for 61 but the game was won by then.
The RCB innings fell into two distinct parts: the first lasted 11 overs or so, when things slowed to a crawl; the second saw the home side compensate for this languor, Gayle and Kohli finally able to score freely.
The pitch probably had something to do with RCB’s lazy beginning — the ball stayed low occasionally — but the Punjab bowlers were largely disciplined in their operation. Only 31 runs came off the Power Play overs, and 58 off the first 11.
It was only in the following over, when Kohli lofted Piyush Chawla for a six, that the shackles broke somewhat.
Gayle, who had been fortunate to survive an appeal for leg-before when on 4 — Parwinder Awana the aggrieved bowler — soon recovered his touch.
Manpreet Grewal was smashed for three sixes, and 22 runs in all, in the 15th over; Awana and Sandeep Sharma then went for a fair few as RCB moved through the gears swiftly.
Gayle and Kohli added 136 (89b) for the second wicket, the last nine overs having yielded 116 runs. RCB may have felt 174 was competitive, but it was nowhere near.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Cheteshwar Pujara c Miller b Awana 19 (20b, 3x4), Chris Gayle b Awana 77 (53b, 4x4, 6x6), Virat Kohli lbw b Mahmood 57 (43b, 6x4, 2x6), A.B. de Villiers b Awana 6 (2b, 1x6), Moises Henriques (not out) 0 (1b), K.L. Rahul c Mandeep b Mahmood 8 (4b, 2x4); Extras (lb-1, nb-3, w-3): 7; Total (for five wickets in 20 overs): 174.
Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Pujara), 2-158 (Gayle), 3-164 (de Villiers), 4-166 (Kohli), 5-174 (Rahul).
KXIP bowling: Mahmood 4-0-24-2, Sandeep 4-0-36-0, Awana 4-0-39-3, Chawla 4-0-27-0, Grewal 4-0-47-0.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (not out) 85 (54b, 10x4, 3x6), Shaun Marsh b Zaheer 8 (4b, 2x4), Azhar Mahmood c de Villiers b Unadkat 61 (41b, 8x4, 1x6), David Miller b Muralitharan 2 (4b), Rajagopal Sathish (not out) 12 (6b, 1x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-4, w-4): 8; Total (for three wickets in 18.1 overs): 176.
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Marsh), 2-142 (Mahmood), 3-162 (Miller).
RCB bowling: Zaheer 4-0-30-1, Henriques 2.1-0-29-0, Unadkat 4-0-34-1, Muralitharan 4-0-44-1, Vinay 4-0-35-0.
Man-of-the-match: A. Gilchrist.