Scores an unbeaten centrury studded with 11 sixes
When Chris Gayle holds centrestage, others are inadvertently left to play supporting roles. The feared left-hander carried his bat through, scored an unbeaten 104 for his sixth IPL century as Kings XI Punjab batted Sunrisers Hyderabad out of the contest.
For the record, Kings posted 193 for three and restricted Sunrisers to 178 for four The 15–run triumph was Kings’ third in successive games here before moving base to Indore. The result also meant an end to a previously-undefeated Sunrisers’ three-win streak while chasing targets this season.
The crowd, that faced drizzles on their way to the PCA Stadium, was treated to a typical ‘Gayle-storm’ as the opener scored most of his runs through sixes — 11 in all — and hit just one boundary. The Karnataka-trio of K. L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair, took turns to play the second fiddle but did it admirably before Aaron Finch sparkled in the final over.
Sunrisers was never in the hunt. Following the blows landed by Gayle, a softened-up Sunrisers’ lost its openers before the end of the second over. Shikhar Dhawan retired hurt after being hit on the left-forearm by a Barinder Sran delivery in the first over. In the second, Wriddhiman Saha was bowled in his attempt to hit a second boundary off Mohit Sharma. Soon, Yusuf Pathan, dropped on five by Yuvraj Singh, was castled by Mohit.
Half-centurions Williamson and Manish Pandey kept alive Sunrisers’ slim hopes but the asking rate kept climbing. By the time the duo added 50 runs off 42 balls by the 13th over, the asking rate had exceeded 14 runs per over. Once Williamson departed for 54, Pandey helped himself to a confidence-boosting half century.
Earlier, opting to bat, Kings’ hit 14 sixes and 10 boundaries. Following a cautious power-play, that produced 49 runs, the pace slackened with the next five overs resulting in two dismissals and an addition of 37 runs. Thereafter, four wicket-less overs followed and witnessed 51 runs. However, Kings could not finish with a flourish as only 42 runs came in the last five! But eventually, these proved enough.
Sunrisers, despite bowling 40 dot balls, could not get more wickets like it did against three previous rivals who were contained for sub-150 totals. Kings’ plan to see off Bhuvneshwar Kumar and attack the rest proved effective.
Off the 55 runs conceded by Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan in his most expensive T20 spell, Gayle took 42, including four successive sixes off the 14th over that produced 27 runs.
Gayle’s most fruitful partnership came with Karun as the duo raised 85 runs in 44 deliveries for the third wicket. It was this onslaught that helped Kings post its second successive score of 190-plus at this venue in a winning cause.