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IPL 2018: Chris Gayle leaves Kings XI Punjab singing in the rain vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Chris Gayle hits his third 50-plus score in a row as Kings XI Punjab beat Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in a rain-truncated game at the Eden Gardens.

cricket Updated: Apr 21, 2018 22:05 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
IPL 2018,Chris Gayle,Kings XI Punjab
Chris Gayle guided Kings XI Punjab to victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2018 on Saturday.(PTI)

The Eden seemed too small for the Universe Boss and with KL Rahul joining in Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) made the monumental look midget-like here on Saturday. (HIGHLIGHTS)

When rain stopped play at 6:41pm, KXIP, chasing what looked like a formidable target of 192, were 96/0 after 8.2 overs, 31 ahead of the DLS par score. Chris Gayle was batting on 49 (27 balls, 5x4, 4x6) and Rahul on 46 (23 balls; 7x4, 1x6) sending Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for cover metaphorically before a sharp nor’wester sent them in. (SCORECARD)

When play resumed 95 minutes later, the full house emptied only a bit perhaps because who knows if Gayle, 38 and less than a year younger than KXIP director of cricket operations Virender Sehwag, would be back next year.

KXIP’s target was revised to 125 in 13 overs but Gayle bookended the rain break with sixes off Piyush Chawla. Rahul too joined in, their 116-run stand taking KXIP to the threshold of victory before Gayle sealed the deal with nine wickets to spare with another six.

READ | IPL 2018: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul shine up front for Kings XI Punjab in Kolkata Knight Riders rout

Gayle stayed unbeaten on 62 (38 b, (5x4, 6x6). He now has scores of 63, 104 and 62 in IPL 2018. Rahul made 60 (27 b, 9x4, 2x6), his second half-century in IPL 2018. It needed a special effort to end a five-match win drought at Eden and the KXIP openers provided one. KXIP now lead the IPL standings with four wins in five games.

Top-scorer Lynn

KKR would have felt they could defend 191. It was an effort that had Chris Lynn getting to his first IPL 2018 half-century before top-scoring with 74, Robin Uthappa making 34 and skipper Dinesh Karthik 43 with some wristy strokes in the third man region.

KL Rahul started with two boundaries off Shivam Mavi, the first streaky, the second sublime. He did that again off the first two balls off Andre Russell’s over. Gayle hadn’t even joined the party and it was already in full swing.

Gayle’s first boundary came off Russell and was all about timing bisecting cover and point. Mavi squared him up thrice and troubled him later but his second over yielded 17 because Gayle swung one over extra-cover and Rahul superbly pulled for a six. Narine put the brakes on in the fifth over but KXIP finished the power play on 73/0.

READ | IPL 2018: Shikhar Dhawan doubtful as Sunrisers Hyderabad face Chennai Super Kings

On Friday, KKR bowling coach Heath Streak had spoken about hitting sixes square on the off-side being difficult. Well, it wasn’t for Gayle, who smote Russell over cover and backward point for maximum. By the time Russell’s right hamstring played up, Gayle and Rahul had made KKR’s powerful bowling attack look pedestrian.

After a slow start, Lynn and Robin Uthappa added 72 for the second wicket, the innings’ eighth over bowled by Barinder Sran yielding 23 runs. Lynn and Karthik then stitched a 62-run stand for the fourth wicket. It looked good but not good enough. KXIP bowled seven wides but it was papered over in the mayhem caused by the openers.

First Published: Apr 21, 2018 21:57 IST