The Universe Boss announced himself in the 2020 Dream11 Indian Premier League in some style, as he got a match-winning fifty to give Kings XI Punjab a much needed win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore. With a disciplined showing with both bat and ball, KXIP managed to arrest their five match losing streak, winning at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on the night by eight wickets.
Batting first, Royal Challengers Bangalore started off brightly, getting to 18 after two overs, with Aaron Finch getting a four and a six early on in his innings. His batting partner Devdutt Padikkal too joined in on the act, getting his first six of the evening with a leg glance that flew into the hoardings.
The youngster however couldn’t keep it going, as he was foxed by Arshdeep Singh in the next over with a ball that stopped on him, forcing him to play it straight to the fielder at short covers. New man Virat Kohli started off with two quick boundaries, as his side raced away to 57/1 after the powerplay.
RCB lost their other opener post the powerplay, as a googly from a returning Murugan Ashwin proved too good for Finch. That wicket slowed down the scoring rate for the batting side, as the next four overs from Punjab went for just 26 runs, with two four overs being scored in that period.
The pressure was building thanks to those economical overs, and forced Wasinghton Sundar into playing a rash shot against Ashwin, only to be caught at long on by Chris Jordan. The spinners continued to keep things tight for Kings XI, as new man Shivam Dube struggled to find his timing against the leg spin of Murugan and Bishnoi.
Dube finally switched gears in the 15th over, as he tonked Bishnoi for two sixes on the leg side. That over proved costly for KXIP, as 19 runs came of it to push the batting side’s score to 122/3 with five to go. The southpaw’s innings however came to an end in the next over, as he skied a short ball from Jordan straight into the hands of the fielder.
New man Ab De Villiers also fell cheaply, caught at covers off Mohammed Shami’s bowling. Shami struck again in the same over, this time with a slower bouncer that got the outside edge of captain Kohli’s bat and fell findly to KL Rahul. Chris Morris gave the batting side some respite in the death, getting a four and three sixes. Isuru Udana also a big six on the leg side in that final over, as RCB finished strong at 171/6 after 20 overs.
The 18th over from Mohammed Shami proved to be the difference, as he dismissed both Kohli and De Villiers, and ensure the death overs didn’t prove too costly.
In reply, Kings XI openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal started off cautiously, putting on 18 runs on the board of the first three overs. Agarwal however switched gears when spin was introduced into the attack, as Yuzvendra Chahal’s first over went for 15 runs.
The KXIP openers got a six apiece in the next two overs, as they pushed the scoring rate to nearly 10 an over, finishing the powerplay at 56 for no loss. This was the fifth 50+ run stand for the opening duo of Kings XI Punjab, as they once again proved their mettle in a crucial chase.
Agarwal went on the aggressive even after the fielding restrictions were lifted, getting a four off Mohammed Siraj and a straight six off Chahal. The leggie however had the final laugh, as he courageously tossed one up to beat Agarwal’s bat and strike timber. Despite the wicket, KXIP found themselves in poll position in the chase, having put on 78 on the board after eight overs.
The wicket slowed down the scoring rate, as the next three overs went for just 10 runs, with new man Chris Gayle taking his time to get set. The well set KL Rahul however took on Siraj before the run rate climbed uncontrollably, as he smashed him for two big sixes on the leg side to get his team score past a 100.
In the 13th over, Gayle finally found his rhythm, as he swatted away Washington Sundar for two sixes to further put his side in control of the chase. In the next over, Rahul casually nudged one to long on to bring up his fourth fifty of the 2020 IPL. With 47 needed of the last five overs, the Universe Boss once again freed his arms, getting a four and a six of Siraj’s penultimate over. Rahul also got into the act, getting a six over mid-wicket in the same over to leave the equation at nearly a run a ball.
With his eye well set, Chris Gayle began playing his shots, swatting away Sundar for two enormous sixes on the leg side to put KXIP within touching distance of the win. The southpaw got to his fifty in the same over with a punch to long-off.
With the game firmly in the kitty, Gayle and Rahul casually kept rotating the strike to leave KXIP needing two runs of the last over. Chahal kept things tight in the final over, to take the game to the last ball, with Chris Gayle being run out trying to get the winning run. New man Nicholas Pooran however ensured there were no hiccups this time around, as he got a maximum of the final ball to give KXIP an eight-wicket victory.
Kings XI Punjab play their next game on Sunday, October 18 against Mumbai Indians.