Punjab squeaks through off the last ball after Rahul and Gayle fifties, prevents Kohli’s men from climbing to second on the table
Kings XI Punjab nearly made a mess of it once again, but Nicholas Pooran’s six off the last ball ended the team’s losing streak on Thursday. K.L. Rahul’s men beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight wickets at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
With Rahul (61 n.o., 49b, 1×4, 5×6) and comeback man Chris Gayle (53, 45b, 1×4, 5×6) at the wicket, seven runs from the last two overs should have been a walk in the park.
Just five came off the 19th over bowled by Isuru Udana, but only two were required off six balls. But Yuzvendra Chahal kept Gayle — who did well to overcome the rustiness of not playing a game for nine months — quiet for the first two balls.
The scores were tied — at 171 — when the ‘Universe Boss’ was run out off the penultimate ball.
He was called through for a non-existent single by Rahul, who only managed two runs off six balls in the 19th and 20th overs.
Fortunately Pooran took charge, stepping out and hitting the final ball over long-on. KXIP’s only other win this season was also against RCB.
Sigh of relief
Rahul must have heaved a sigh of relief when he saw Pooran clear the fence. The skipper had played some glorious strokes, like the pull over square-leg off Navdeep Saini.
Along with Mayank Agarwal (45, 25b, 4×4, 3×6), he added 78 for the first wicket. And for once, the big runs from the openers were translated into points.
Earlier, captain Virat Kohli, in his 200th game for RCB, top-scored with 48 (39b, 3×4), but his side was restricted well by the KXIP bowlers, led by leg-spinner M. Ashwin.
If it wasn’t for the 24 runs clobbered in the final over by Chris Morris (25 not out, 8b, 1×4, 3×6) and Udana off Mohammed Shami, RCB likely wouldn’t have been in the game.
Before the nightmare, though, Shami had bowled a dream over in which he dismissed both Kohli and A.B. de Villiers.
The South African genius had come in too late, however, with RCB promoting left-handers Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube to tackle leg-spin.
The decision raised questions, especially given what de Villiers managed in his previous outing in Sharjah, earlier this week, when he single-handedly put the game beyond Kolkata Knight Riders.
Royal Challengers: Aaron Finch b M. Ashwin 20 (18b, 2×4, 1×6), Devdutt Padikkal c Pooran b Arshdeep 18 (12b, 1×4, 1×6), Virat Kohli c Rahul b Shami 48 (39b, 3×4), Washington Sundar c Jordan b M. Ashwin 13 (14b, 1×4), Shivam Dube c Rahul b Jordan 23 (19b, 2×6), A.B. de Villiers c Hooda b Shami 2 (5b), Chris Morris (not out) 25 (8b, 1×4, 3×6), Isuru Udana (not out) 10 (5b, 1×6); Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-6): 12; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 171.
Fall of wickets: 1-38 (Padikkal, 4.1 overs), 2-62 (Finch, 6.3), 3-86 (Washington, 10.3), 4-127 (Dube, 15.6), 5-134 (de Villiers, 17.3), 6-136 (Kohli, 17.5).
Kings XI bowling: Maxwell 4-0-28-0, Shami 4-0-45-2, Arshdeep 2-0-20-1, Bishnoi 3-0-29-0, M. Ashwin 4-0-23-2, Jordan 3-0-20-1.
Kings XI Punjab: K.L. Rahul (not out) 61 (49b, 1×4, 5×6), Mayank Agarwal b Chahal 45 (25b, 4×4, 3×6), Chris Gayle run out 53 (45b, 1×4, 5×6), Nicholas Pooran (not out) 6 (1b, 1×6); Extras (lb-3, w-9): 12; Total (for two wkts. in 20 overs): 177.
Fall of wickets: 1-78 (Mayank, 7.6), 2-171 (Gayle, 19.5).
RCB bowling: Morris 4-0-22-0, Saini 4-0-21-0, Chahal 3-0-35-1, Udana 2-0-14-0, Siraj 3-0-44-0, Washington 4-0-38-0.
KXIP won by eight wickets off the final delivery.