Chris Gayle’s swashbuckling knock of 99 runs went in vain as Kings XI Punjab suffered a seven-wicket defeat against Rajasthan Royals at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
The win helped Rajasthan to climb up to fifth spot and remain in contention for a playoff berth in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Royals have similar figures as Kings XI Punjab with 12 points from 13 matches.
Ben Stokes, who had returned with 2/32 in Punjab’s innings, was the star with the willow as well. During Rajasthan Royals’ chase of 186, Stokes smashed 50 off 26 ball. Skipper Steve Smith (31 off 20 balls) and Sanju Samson (48 off 25) also made genuine contributions.
Meanwhile, Chris Jordan (1/44) came with the first break, dismissing Stokes in the sixth over when he had just completed his half-century.
Sanju Samson (48) and Uthappa then added 51 runs for the second wicket as RR crossed the three-digit mark in 9.3 overs.
Murugan Ashwin (1/43) got the better of Uthappa in the 11th over which saw RR at 111/2.
RR skipper Steve Smith (31 not out off 20) then gave company to Samson for a brief 34-run stand before a run-out saw the latter walking back to the dug out in the 15th over.
With some fireworks in the middle, Smith and Jos Buttler (unbeaten 22 off 11) then took the Punjab bowlers to cleaners as the pair amassed 41 runs off just 19 balls to help RR cross the line with 15 balls and seven wickets to spare.
For KXIP, M Ashwin and Jordan managed a wicket apiece while the others remained wicketless.
Earlier, Gayle’s blistering 99 and KL Rahul’s scintillating 46 took KXIP to 185/4 in the allotted 20 overs.
With all the Royals bowler struggling, Ben Stokes (2/32) came with a major relief when he dismissed the Punjab skipper, who missed his half-century merely by four runs, in the 15th over.
Nicholas Pooran (22) and Gayle were then involved in a 41-run stand as KXIP crossed the 150-run mark.
While trying to escalate the run-rate, Gayle tried to go big against Archer in the last over but the England bowler had the last laugh as he castled Gayle, who missed a well-deserved ton by a run. Gayle’s knock was laced with six boundaries and eight huge sixes.
During his knock, Gayle became the first batsman to get to 1,000 sixes in T20 cricket history when he smashed the seventh of his eight sixes.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 186/3 wkts in 17.3 overs (Ben Stokes 50, Sanju Samson 48; Murugan Ashwin 1/43) beat Kings XI Punjab 185/4 wkts in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 99, KL Rahul 46; Jofra Archer 2/26) by 7 wickets
With IANS inputs