After Kolkata Knight Riders scored 191 at the end of their innings on Saturday, the packed crowd at the Eden Gardens witnessed arguably this VIVO Indian Premier League season’s best opening duo in full flow.
With Lokesh Rahul and Chris Gayle at the crease, Kings XI Punjab hit the ground running in their chase. In the first two overs, 22 were scored with Rahul stroking four boundaries while Gayle chipped in at the other end.
The dynamic pair was going strong at 96 until the rain gods decided to intervene in the ninth over, and the match was delayed for a while.
No bowler had been spared, the weather offering some respite to the KKR attack. The young star, Shivam Mavi had a sorry outing, conceding 26 runs in his first two overs. Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla all got the stick too.
Once the clouds cleared, the Gayle storm resumed as the Jamaican slotted a Chawla full toss for a six to complete his third straight 50+ score – his best run in the IPL so far.
Rahul was not one to be left behind either, hitting a six off Narine’s first ball in the following over to bring up his own half century. He scored two more fours off the next two balls, before holing out to deep midwicket and departing for a well-constructed 60 off just 27 balls.
This was KXIP’s fourth opening partnership of the season from five matches that was worth more than fifty runs, and three of these included Rahul and Gayle.
- 116 v KKR, KL Rahul and C Gayle
- 96 v CSK, KL Rahul and C Gayle
- 58 v DD, KL Rahul and M Agarwal
- 53 v SRH, KL Rahul and C Gayle
In fact, their partnership of 116 - of which 98 came in boundaries alone - also happens to be the best opening partnership of the IPL 2018 season so far.
In the end, buoyed by this fantastic blitz at the top, KXIP won the rain-curtailed match by a comfortable 9-wicket margin with the DLS method. Scoring an unbeaten 62 off just 38 deliveries, Gayle got his hands on the coveted Orange Cap as well, after just three innings.
“It’s good to be among the runs. Doesn't matter about the Orange Cap, I think Rahul deserves it,” said Gayle after finishing the match off with yet another six.