Mohali, April 21 (IANS) Chris Gayle struck a brilliant 87 as Royal Challengers Bangalore comfortably beat Kings XI Punjab by five wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here Friday.
Gayle and A.B. de Villiers (52) added 131 runs for the fifth wicket as Royal Challengers Bangalore, set a target of 164, made 166 with three balls to spare.
Gayle was also adjudged as Man of the Match for his brilliant 56-ball innings that was studded with eight fours and four sixes.
With their second consecutive win, Royal Challengers Bangalore got their campaign back on track after having suffered three losses on the trot.
They move up a place to the seventh spot with six points from six matches while Kings XI slipped a spot to the eighth with four points from six matches.
Asked to bat first, Kings XI Punjab, who were without their captain Adam Gilchrist, again made a poor start but crucial innings from stand-in skipper David Hussey (41) and former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood (33 not out) helped them get a competitive score of 163 for six in 20 overs. Gilchrist missed the match nursing a hamstring injury.
Kings XI pacer Parvinder Awana (4-34) raised hopes for the hosts. He bowled a brilliant first spell in which he picked up the crucial wickets of opener Mayank Aggarwal (1), Virat Kohli (4) and Saurabh Tiwary (4) to reduce Royal Challengers to 25 for three inside six overs.
But Gayle played a patient knock and took his time to settle down before an onslaught. He took 28 balls to score 31 runs but once he took on, there was no stopping him.
Gayle completely dominated the century-run stand between him and De Villiers. The duo always kept Royal Challengers along with the required run rate as the boundaries came regularly.
The match looked evenly balanced till the 17th over as Royal Challengers needed 24 runs off the last three overs. But Awana, who was the bet bowler for the Kings XI till then, bowled a pathetic 18th over that made things easy for the visitors.
Gayle smashed Awana for 17 runs in the eight-ball over before departing in the fourth ball but by then he had taken Royal Challengers to the threshold of a win. Hussey took a brilliant catch at extra cover to end Gayle's whirlwind knock.
Leggie Piyush Chawla gave Kings XI a glimmer of hope after he dismissed De Villiers, trapped leg-before in the penultimate over. The South African hit six fours in the 39-ball innings.
Andrew McDonald (8 not out) and skipper Daniel Vettori (2 not out) took the team home safely without further damage.
Earlier in the day, Kings XI again made a poor start losing openers Nitin Saini (14) and Paul Valthaty (6) inside five overs.
A 30-run stand between Australians Shaun Marsh (26) and Hussey got Kings XI innings back on track.
Mahmood, who registered himself as a British citizen, made a memorable debut in the IPL smashing 33 off 14 balls that helped Kings XI get a competitive total on board. Mahmood's arrival to India was delayed due to visa issues. The 37-year-old, who has played 21 Tests and 143 ODIs, had surprisingly applied for visa in his Pakistani passport that delayed his arrival.
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