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Another Gayle storm, Gilly steals thunder

india Updated: May 15, 2013 01:22 IST
Sahan Bidappa

After he won the toss and put the Royal Challengers Bangalore in, Adam Gilchrist said in jest that he did that so the home crowd could watch Chris Gayle bat.

Gayle did bat, not at his destructive best but enough to set Kings XI 175 for victory. The last time he batted at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, he had scored that many all alone against Pune Warriors.

So the entertainment quotient was not sufficient, one would have thought at the break. Gilchrist must have felt it and decided to unleash himself.

The Kings XI skipper rolled back the years, when he had made the mid-wicket area his domain. He swept and swiped boundaries over that region and one knew that Gilchrist was showing glimpses of his glorious past.

The left-hander has had a very ordinary tournament, at one point dropping himself from the playing eleven. But his innings of 85 (54b, 10x4, 3x6) showed, at 41, he can still conjure magic with bat in hand, though sparingly.

Gilchrist wasn’t lethal like at his prime. At the beginning of his 100th T20 innings, he played and missed often, struggling against the late swing generated by Zaheer Khan, who finally played his first game of the season. But as the innings wore on, Gilchrist pounced on anything in his area.

He cleared his left leg and hoisted Jaydev Unadkat over long-on, and welcomed back Zaheer for the second spell with a clean hit down the wicket.

It also helped that Azhar Mahmood (61, 41b, 8x4, 1x6), promoted to No. 3, played a perfect partner. The duo put on 118 in 77 balls for the second wicket which sealed the game for the visitors.

While the victory hasn't improved Kings XI's chances of qualifying for the playoffs, it did deal a blow to RCB, who are in a desperate situation now.

The hosts brought back Zaheer and Muttiah Muralitharan. While that was right, dropping their best seamer of the tournament, Ravi Rampaul, wasn't.

Earlier, the change in colours — RCB donned green as part of their 'Go Green' initiative -- seemed to have brought in a serene Gayle to the middle. The big Jamaican struggled to get going on a two-paced pitch and even survived a close leg before shot off Parvinder Awana when on 4.

At one stage he had scored 29 off 34 balls as RCB crawled to 52 for one in 10 overs. But it didn't take long for Gayle to make the switch. He hit three successive sixes and added three more to finish with 77 (53b 4x4, 6x6) while Virat Kohli chipped in with 57 (43b, 6x4, 2x6). But Gilchrist had other plans. While he didn't show the intention at the beginning, the Aussie did surprise himself on the night.