IPL 2020: Rajasthan ruin Gayle’s night out, end Kings’ winning streak
IPL 2020: Chris Gayle’s 99 went in vain as Rajasthan Royals halted Kings XI Punjab’s five-match winning streak with a seven-wicket win in Abu Dhabi.Updated: Oct 31, 2020, 00:08 IST
The first time Chris Gayle faced Jofra Archer in Abu Dhabi was at the end of the third over. Archer had brought Gayle to the crease by dismissing Kings XI Punjab’s opener Mandeep Singh with a first-ball bouncer, and he ended up testing the Jamaican with a delivery of similar length and fury. Gayle simply swayed out of the way and smiled.
The last time Gayle faced Archer on Friday night was in the final over of the innings and this time a fuller length delivery dislocated his stumps, even forcing a frustrated Gayle to fling his bat in dismay. Not because he hadn’t got a hang of Archer’s pace – he had smashed the previous ball for six – but because Gayle had fallen a run short of what would’ve been a seventh IPL hundred.
Between those two balls, Gayle had made Rajasthan Royals regret dismissing the in-form Mandeep as quickly as they did. He dotted the outfield with a few chances and eight sixes, adding 120 runs for the second wicket with his captain and the season’s top-scorer, KL Rahul. Rahul’s 600th run in this IPL and Gayle’s 1000th six in T20 cricket gave Punjab a large enough total to end RR’s IPL campaign if they successfully defended 185 runs.
Punjab, though, didn’t do well with ifs on Friday. While Gayle was stopped short of a landmark, his side couldn’t get across the line either to harden their bid for a play-off spot. And that was mainly due to some brutal hitting by a man who did reach the three-figure mark in his previous outing, Ben Stokes. The all-rounder-cum-opener raced to a personal fifty before the end of the powerplay, giving Rajasthan just the start they needed in their do-or-die clash.
But Stokes was out immediately after, deceived by his compatriot Chris Jordan. It was Punjab’s Jordan who had sparked his team’s five-match winning streak by holding his nerve in a Super Over a fortnight ago. Then again, Rajasthan too had won their last four matches in chases. Something had to give and luckily for Rajasthan, it wasn’t their ability to hunt down a target.
The last time these two teams met in this IPL, Rahul Tewatia had to pull off a late batting miracle in Sharjah to drag Rajasthan to victory. In Abu Dhabi, Tewatia wasn’t even needed. Sanju Samson, captain Steve Smith and Jos Buttler hijacked Gayle’s evening and also ensured they lived to fight another night.