Most people at the PCA Stadium on Monday hoped to witness a Chris Gayle special. The phenomenon that the West Indian is, he didn’t disappoint.
Despite scoring 61 off 33 balls, however, Gayle failed to produce an innings worthy of his name. If there was a ‘real’ Chris Gayle, it was David Miller.
101 off 38 balls! Yes, it was ridiculous. Chasing 191, Kings XI Punjab reached the destination in 18 overs to best Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets.
To further raise the degree of incredulity, it would be good to remind ourselves that the home team was struggling at 64 for four after 9.5 overs.
If KXIP had lost, it would’ve found itself on the brink of elimination. It now finds itself reborn.
Though Miller had produced a masterful 80 to defeat Pune Warriors earlier in the season here, his knock against RCB was on a purely different level. The South African added 130 runs off 49 balls with Rajagopal Sathish but the latter scored just 27.
The real assault began after the 13th over, with KXIP weakly placed at 95. From then onwards, any delivery on good length or full was dispatched to the boundary by Miller with insane regularity.
17 in the 14th over by Vinay, which saw Kohli drop a sitter with the South African on 41, and 26 in the following off R.P. Singh brought the host back into the contest. 16, 18 and 22 off the next three overs finished the game. Fittingly enough, Miller won the match with a six off Gayle.
Earlier, RCB was asked to bat and if there was any regret inside Kohli’s mind after losing the toss, it was soon banished by a robust opening stand between Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara.
The Indian, making a belated first appearance this season after recovering from injury, began rustily and only 23 came off the first four overs. Gayle, though, had already hit three fours until then and further boosted the score by slamming IPL debutant Michael Neser for two sixes and a four in the fifth.
Pujara responded by scoring three successive fours off Manpreet Grewal in the sixth and suddenly the score was up to 58. While Gayle feasted on the short deliveries offered by KXIP in ample measure, Pujara took good care of anything full.
Piyush Chawla’s introduction into the attack after the PowerPlay helped KXIP to rein in RCB slightly as the leggie eschewed spin for accuracy. Gayle, however, reached his half-century in 27 balls.
Grewal finally accounted for him in the 12th over when the West Indian was bowled while trying to hit the bowler for a second consecutive six. His dismissal slightly slowed RCB’s progress but 45 came off the last three overs as Neser was taken to the cleaners by A.B. de Villiers. The Aussie conceded 21 in the final over.