After Gayle’s drop, Rajasthan were always chasing the game, allowing Punjab to get to a high-scoring total of 185/4, with the southpaw scoring a 99. In the second innings, it didn’t matter, with Ben Stokes (50) and Sanju Samson (48) toppling Punjab bowlers for an easy win in the end.
KXIP 7/10 -Kings XI Punjab endured the worst start possible, with Jofra Archer accounting for Mandeep Singh in the very first over. It nearly could have been two when Gayle lofted one to the deep fielder but the drop ensured that it was advantage KXIP, with Gayle’s 16-ball 27 accelerating them to 53-1 after the first six overs.
RR 9.5/10 - If not for Ben Stokes’ dismissal, it would have been Rajasthan Royals best-ever start in the powerplay this season, with positive intent in the first six. Stokes continued from where he left, with a 26-ball 50, as Royals scored 66 runs in the first six overs, chasing a mammoth total of 186.
KXIP 9/10 - While Rahul played at a slower pace, Gayle just took off and never looked back, adding 41 runs in the next phase following powerplay, showcasing his arsenal of shots. Leg-spinners, right-arm pacers, didn’t matter for the West Indian, helping Kings XI Punjab get to a total of 123 for two wickets, with Rahul getting out for a 41-ball 46. A near-perfect middle phase for the Kings.
RR 9.5/10 - Full marks to the intent but the loss of Robin Uthappa and the introduction of Steve Smith in the middle-overs has brought the marks to 9.5. However, they were scintillating, never let the asking-rate reach a dimension where he it started looking surreal for them, as they reached 146/3, 23 more than the Kings, which made the difference.
RR 3/10 - From 123/2, RR bowlers somehow found a way to bowl all the long-hops possible to Christopher Henry Gayle who accepted the Christmas gifts and deposited it to the third tier. Alongside Pooran, the two Windies duo’s aggressive partnership took KXIP to a mightily impressive total of 185, scoring 62 runs in the last five overs, losing just two wickets.
KXIP 2/10 - With 40 runs still required from the last five overs, the game seemingly was in balance with Kings XI Punjab’s excellent death-bowling this season. However, as soon as the last five started, both Chris Jordan and Mohammed Shami conceded and leaked too many runs, which allowed Royals to get to an easy victory.
Jofra Archer continues to be RR’s one-man pace army
16 wickets, that’s not how many Jofra Archer has picked up for RR this season but that’s the cumulative wickets that the Rajasthan pace attack has taken without the Englishman. The Englishman alone has 18 wickets, at an average of 18.11 and an economy rate of 6.56. However, it has been in the powerplay where the right-arm pacer has been most effective - with the best economy rate in the tournament - at 4.57 and the second-highest wickets in the same period, with nine wickets just behind Mumbai Indians’ Trent Boult and an average of 11.67, third-best in the first six overs. Today was just another day when he struck to remove Mandeep Singh but with no other able support, he was reduced to being the only threat for KXIP’s threatening top-order.
Chris Gayle is a branded T20 ‘royalty’
After Kings XI Punjab lost their fifth game on the trot, the cameras panned towards the mighty Chris Gayle, who was still on the bench for the Punjab franchise. The Universe Boss was still looking fit and fine, wanting to play all the games for the franchise at the age of 41 but Punjab were still waiting. And then, he stepped out against Royal Challengers Bangalore but wasn’t opening the innings, in a move that stunned everyone. That turned out to be season-tuner for KXIP, who then went on to win their next five games consecutively, turning their fortune around in scintillating fashion, and Gayle was a mighty part of it. In six innings that followed, the left-hander scored 261 runs off 185 deliveries, at an average of 52.20 and a strike-rate of 141.08. Believe it or not, at the age of 41, Gayle is indeed a branded T20 ‘royalty,’ and his 1000 T20 sixes is just a testament to the brand or its focal point and so was his 99.
Ben Stokes has turned his ‘ordinary’ season extraordinary
Coming into the Mumbai encounter, Ben Stokes’ ordinary form was a real worry for the Royals, whose mentor Shane Warne suggested that the left-hander is better off at No.4. However, after that knock, the landscape has completely changed with his century against Mumbai. Today too, he was a vocal point in Royals’ quick start, chasing a huge total of 186, with a 26-ball fifty, which got them off to the best start possible. With the ball too before today, Stokes was highly ineffective, struggling to hit the right length and line but for the first time this season, he was right on point, picking up two crucial wickets at the right time for the Royals. Now that it has come at the back end of the innings, the Royal fans would dearly be thinking whether it has come one game too late for them this season.
Chasing a big total, Rajasthan Royals needed that one over where they could release the pressure, which was provided by Kings XI Punjab’s Murugan Ashwin. One of the most reliable spinners in the tournament, Ashwin strayed both in terms of line and length as Stokes punished him for 16 runs to give Royals the needed base to set up a full on assault on a good total.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Thriller
For starters, this game pretty much has the potential to decide who would be walking into the play-off stage, so in all, it is a crucial game in the context of the tournament. It rightly lived up the potential and even outplayed it at times, when Chris Gayle was smashing the ball all around the park for fun while others found it tough to score around him. If Gayle did that in the first half, Stokes pulled his sleeves for a similar innings in the second half in what was a thrilling encounter.