Ever since Chris Gayle has been included in the playing eleven, Kings XI Punjab’s fortunes have been changed dramatically. They are on a roll after being at the bottom of the table early in the Dream11 Indian Premier League.
The ‘Universe Boss’ was in his elements on Friday too as he thrashed Rajasthan Royals bowlers to all corners of the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi to help his team amass 185 for 4.
Although Gayle missed his much-deserved hundred by a whisker, he perhaps already did the damage to his opponents. The giant opener was in an ‘aeroplane mode’ as he rained sixes and fours at will.
Gayle’s 99 (63 balls, 6×4, 8×6) was the biggest contribution in the KXIP innings. Skipper KL Rahul (46: 41 balls, 3×4, 2×6) and Gayle added a 120 runs for the second wicket to set the tone for the innings, before another West Indies star Nicholas Pooran (22 off just 10 balls with three sixes) contributed some massive hits in the death overs.
Gayle and Rahul gave an early momentum to their team after lethal speedster Jofra Archer removed last match hero Mandeep for a duck in the first over. The left-right combination of Gayle and Rahul came up with a counter-attack after Archer’s early strike and added a solid century plus partnership in quick time.
Gayle departed in the final over and needed a spot-on yorker from Archer to get the job done in the end. Gayle now has two 99 run dismissals after last season’s similar score against RCB.
Only Archer (2-26) and Ben Stokes (2-32) bowled well for RR as other bowlers struggled to cope up with the onslaught of Gayle’s tremendous batting.
Earlier RR skipper Steve Smith won the toss and opted to field first.
KXIP have played 12 matches so far with 6 wins and 6 defeats to stay at the fourth spot with 12 points. On the other hand, RR have won 5 out of 12 matches and are in seventh place with 10 points. Both teams have high hopes of reaching the IPL 13 play-offs.
Kings XI Punjab 185 for 4 in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 99, KL Rahul 46, Nicholas Pooran 22, Glenn Maxwell 6 not out; Jofra Archer 2-26, Ben Stokes 2-32) vs Rajasthan Royals.