IPL 2018: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul ‘powerplay’ boosts KXIP, leaves rivals shaken

KL Rahul, who missed IPL 2017 due to injury, and Chris Gayle, who was considered a spent force, have both proved a point with their explosive batting for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2018.

cricket Updated: Apr 22, 2018 18:30 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
IPL 2018,Chris Gayle,KL Rahul
Kings XI Punjab cricketers KL Rahul (R) and Chris Gayle (L) have formed a strong partnership at the top of the order in IPL 2018.(AFP)

At this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction, it was hard to find a more contrasting story than KL Rahul and Chris Gayle. While the young Indian batsman went for an eye-popping sum of Rs 11.5 crore to Kings XI Punjab, the Jamaican veteran had to wait for three rounds of bidding before the team bought him for his base price of Rs 2 crore.

However, that has meant little in the tournament till now as the duo has complemented each other brilliantly at the top of the batting order. And with three 50-plus partnerships, they are currently the hottest act in IPL 2018.

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Chris Gayle and KL Rahul are known to explode off the blocks and that has been the strength of Kings XI Punjab till now. The opposition has failed to dismiss the two batsmen in the first six powerplay overs in the last three matches. As a result, KXIP have been able to maintain a run rate of 10.67 in the powerplays, a commendable feat even in the shortest format.

The numbers are also quite impressive on the individual front. KL Rahul has scored 156 runs off 76 balls in the powerplays with a 14-ball half century against Delhi Daredevils. Chris Gayle, who didn’t play the first two games, is not far behind, having scored 110 off 62 balls.

Kings XI Punjab opened with KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal at the start of the competition and their impact was instant. The pair started brilliantly, a 51-run stand against Delhi Daredevils was capped by Rahul smashing the fastest half-century in IPL history, off 14 balls.

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No bowler spared

However, since Gayle joined forces with Rahul, Kings XI Punjab have looked unstoppable. The duo was merciless against Chennai Super Kings, scoring freely against Harbhajan Singh and Rahul Chahar with 75 runs coming in the first six overs. In the next game, they were relatively quieter against Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers but were still able to reach 49/0 in the powerplay period to build a perfect foundation for a huge total.

Gayle went on to score the first century of IPL 2018, taking apart Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan.

The best show of the opening pair came against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday as they wreaked havoc from the first over. Chasing a steep target of 192 in a rain-threatened game, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle didn’t spare any bowler, and at the same time didn’t throw their wicket away.

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Thanks to their dominance, KXIP ended up scoring 73 runs in six overs - the third highest powerplay score at Eden Gardens.

First Published: Apr 22, 2018 18:02 IST