Chris Gayle channelised his inner anger while Mandeep Singh played through immense personal grief as they conjured to script another chapter in a beautiful comeback story for Kings XI Punjab which beat Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in the IPL on Monday.
Chasing a target of 150, KXIP achieved the target in 18.5 overs losing only two wickets as they have now won their fifth successive match to keep playoffs hopes alive.
Gayle, who was overlooked and was also ill during the first phase showed why he is the ‘Universe Boss’ during his innings of 51 off 29 balls with five sixes. Mandeep, who is grieving the loss of his father, anchored the chase with an unbeaten 66 off 56 balls as the duo added 100 runs in 10.1 overs.
Such was the effect of Gayle-storm that it rubbed off on Mandeep (8×4, 2×6) who also completed a splendid sixth IPL half-century.
The duo added 100 runs from 61 balls to take them home with seven balls to spare.
KXIP’s dream run of five wins on the bounce not only took them to top-four but also opened up the table before the penultimate round.
KKR slipped to fifth with 12 points from 12 matches as with a negative run rate of (-0.479) things have become more difficult to make the last-four.
Opting to field, Kings XI Punjab dished out a disciplined bowling show, especially at the back-end, to restrict Kolkata Knight Riders to a modest 149/9.
Mohammed Shami (3/35) was the pick of the Kings XI Punjab bowlers while leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi (2/20) and Chris Jordan (2/25) claimed two wickets apiece to put brakes on KKR who were invited to bat first.
After a familiar jittery start, KKR got the momentum going with opener Shubman Gill (57 off 45 balls) and skipper Eoin Morgan (40) firing all cylinders inside the Powerplay.
But KXIP’s last match hero Jordan pulled things back for his team by brilliantly mixing up his slow deliveries, while Bishnoi took the prized scalp of Morgan after KKR reached 54/3 inside the Powerplay.
Morgan holed out to Murugan Ashwin at deep square leg as Bishoi ended the free-flowing partnership for 81 runs from 47 balls and from then onwards KKR struggled to get going.
Earlier, KKR had another messy start and looked in deep trouble at 10/3 inside two overs after Shami’s exceptional first over.
But Morgan and Gill counter-attacked beautifully, getting the boundaries and sixes. The duo made full use of the Powerplay restrictions and Shami conceded 21 runs from his third over.
Gill showed his sheer class and timing, smacking Shami for back-to-back sixes.
This was after opener Nitish Rana got out for a golden duck and Shami dismissing Rahul Tripathi (7) and Dinesh Karthik (0) in the space of three balls.