Chris Gayle in rescue act

Along with AB de Villiers adds 131 for the fourth wicket after Awana strikes early blows

Written by Nitin Sharma | Mohali | Published: April 20, 2012 2:16 am

When Chris Gayle walked out during Royal Challengers’ chase of 167 runs,a fan held up a poster which said: “Gayle,hit me on the face.” Despite scoring 87 off 56 balls which handed Kings XI Punjab a five-wicket defeat,it took Gayle a while to come anywhere close to obliging the fan.

After the innings break Punjab were quick off the blocks with Parvinder Awana,playing just his second IPL match,sending back Mayank Agarwal and Virat Kohli in his first over,the second of the innings. When the Delhi Ranji player then dismissed Saurabh Tiwary in the first ball of his third over,his spell read 2.1-0-6-3 and Bangalore was reeling at 25/3.

Joined by AB de Villiers,Gayle shelved the big shots and instead the pair accumulated in the early part of their 131-run stand. By then,Awana had already sent down three overs and was taken off the attack and while Piyush Chawla was played out,the other bowlers were slowly taken to task. Harmeet Singh and Azhar Mahmood were hit for at least a boundary an over and the rest came in singles as Bangalore kept pace without having to go big.

When Gayle moved from 49 to 51 with a double in the 13th over,he had scored five boundaries and a six off the 41 balls he had faced at that stage. The required run rate had crept upto ten. Gayle then went for it,and the next 36 runs would come of just 16 balls. He started off by hitting Harmeet for a six back over his head,and a couple of overs later sent Praveen Kumar crashing for another six and a four. Awana’s final over saw Gayle crack two hits to the boundary and one over it before David Hussey pulled off a sharp catch inside the circle. Just six of the 36 runs Gayle scored after his half century had come of singles.

With the pitch offering some bounce,the South African too played at ease without having to employ his famous reverse sweep or switch hit during a well made 52. Though the pair could not finish off the job,Bangalore won without ever looking in trouble during the later stages.

Earlier,Azhar Mahmood’s quickfire 33 in his first IPL game boosted Punjab to a par score. David Hussey and fellow Australian Shaun Marsh steadied Punjab’s innings after Paul Valthaty continued his bad form with the bat,departing for six,caught behind off Zaheer Khan. Khan had also removed new comer Nitin Saini in his second over but Marsh and Hussey,and later Hussey and Mandeep Singh dragged Punjab out of trouble with usefull parnerships.

Mahmood’s impact

Despite the associations,the home side was never able to get on top of the bowling,and when Hussey was cleaned up for 41 at the end of the 15th over Punjab were tottering at 105/5. At that time,it looked like even a par score was beyond the side as most of the recognised batsmen were already back in the hut. Mahmood,who missed a few of Punjab’s earlier games due to visa issues,then slammed a 14-ball 33 that included three fours and two sixes.

Mandeep ran hard and turned the strike over effectively,making 20 off 15 balls without hitting a single boundary. The partnership,worth 44 runs and coming in 19 balls along with Mahmood’s late onslaught yielded the side 51 of the last four overs. The side eventually ended with 163,but with Gayle deciding to buckle down,the score did not,however,prove to be very defensible.

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