Kings XI Punjab beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 8 wickets in Sharjah to put an end to their losing streak half-way to the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. Batting first, RCB scored 171/6 and in reply KL Rahul and Chris Gayle struck fifties as KXIP chased down the total off the last ball. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle hit fine half-centuries as Kings XI Punjab finally clinched their first win.
Chasing 172 in a must-win game, the in-form opening pair of Rahul (61 not off 49) and Mayank Agarwal (45 off 25) got off to a flying start before Gayle, who hasn’t held a bat since playing in the Bangladesh Premier League in January, (53 off 45) joined his skipper in the middle to get KXIP close to the finishing line. His innings were being studded with five sixes and a four.
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With three Kings XI Punjab spinners operating – M Ashwin stood out with 2/23 – it was imperative de Villiers got the maximum time to find his range of shots, especially at a venue where he had scored 73 off 33 against KKR only three days back. But by the time he arrived, RCB were left with just four overs. Pressed to not waste deliveries, de Villiers lasted just five balls, scoring two.
A knock from Chris Morris and he has powered RCB to a challenging total of 171. Morris hit a 8-ball 25 and smokes Mohammed Shami for 24 runs in the final over. A boundary and three sixes and Shami’s good job in the previous over went waste as he finishes with 4-0-45-2. Chris Morris boosts the score with a much-needed six but Chris Jordan bounces back to end the over well.
Earlier, KXIP conceded only 25 runs from over 16-19 before Morris and Isuru Udana hammered Shami for three sixes. Rahul experimented by opening the bowling with Glenn Maxwell (0/28 in 4 overs). He was slog swept by his Australian teammate and close friend Aaron Finch on the final ball. KXIP, whose bowling has been the weakest link, did rather well from 11-14 overs conceding just 20 runs.
After a string of losses, KL Rahul is working hard to keep his side motivated. He’s got some help from the very side he’s going up against today though. Gayle’s return could turn things around for a desperate Kings XI Punjab in the coming matches. Their next match will be on Sunday against the defending champions Mumbai Indians.
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