Rahul dominates before Brar punctures RCB chase in Punjab Kings win
KL Rahul’s class is unquestionable, his restraint in Punjab Kings jersey often dictated by the strength of the batting side around him. His unbeaten 91 on Friday was a prime example where he began cautiously with the inexperienced Prabhsimran Singh taking time to find his feet.
Once he unleashed himself, Chris Gayle began trading in boundaries. He stepped back a gear when there was flurry of wickets between overs 10-15 and finished powerfully in the slog overs. Rahul batted 57 of the 120 balls Punjab faced, but was the architect in setting up the 180-run chase Royal Challengers Bangalore were after, which they fell 34 runs short in Ahmedabad.
When Chris Gayle coming in at No.3 got off the mark with a single, Virat Kohli had a word as he went past him that got the big man smiling. ‘Not too many against your ex-teammates’ he might have muttered. Gayle clearly wasn’t in a mood to play heed. In the next eleven balls he faced, the Jamaican smashed 34 runs, five of them in boundaries off the Kyle Jamieson sixth over. Gayle’s fours had more placement than power written over them. In the next over, he launched into low-on-confidence Yuvzendra Chahal with two straight sixes, one flat, the other higher and farther. Gayle’s power-hitting was enough to free Rahul at the other end. By the time Gayle was dismissed for 46 in the 11th over, Rahul had moved from 19 (22) to 43 (33) and Punjab’s 100 was up in the 11th over.
After Gayle, Punjab got stuttering again but then came the slog. Harshal Patel proudly holding his purple cap and working efficiently as RCB’s death overs specialist, conceded 40 runs in his final two. Patel lost his accuracy as Rahul 91*(57) and young Harpreet Brar 25* (17), who soon had a bigger role to play, got stuck into him.
In reply, Punjab Kings opened with their fastest weapons, Rily Meredith with his long run-up attacking the stumps and Mohammed Shami challenging his India skipper Kohli with rising deliveries. Meredith shattered Devdutt Padikkal’s stumps and almost got Kohli lbw.
RCB were struggling, scoring at six runs per over at the halfway stage. Kohli (35) lost his wicket to scoreboard pressure, going for a wild slog against Brar’s left-arm slow bowling. Glenn Maxwell was bowled to a turning delivery next ball, and when the mercurial AB de Villiers (3) too was out caught in the ring, Brar had scripted a fairlytale performance (3/19) to take life out of RCB’s chase.