If you had tickets for Monday night’s clash of IPL 7, the one between current favourites Kings XI Punjab and batting heavyweights Royal Challengers Bangalore, you would have considered yourself lucky. At least before the game had started.
With Chris Gayle — playing his first game — Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers on one side and Glenn Maxwell and David Miller on the other, you would get a ringside view of what was expected to be the most explosive (batting wise) match of the UAE leg.
But if you indeed did spend precious dirhams for Monday night’s clash, you will know that your luck has perhaps begun to ebb. Any T20 junkie worth his big hits will tell you that the match was drab. All of four sixes were hit in the entirety of the contest, all of which were scored in the first innings. Two of those four sixes arrived in the very first over of the match.
Yet, there were a few men in the Middle-East who wouldn’t have complained with the show on Monday night — the 11 who took the Dubai field in KXIP’s colours.
Despite breaking into a few buckets of sweat while chasing down RCB’s paltry total of 124 (Punjab lost five wickets and got there in 18.5 overs), the George Bailey-led side managed to prove that they are by far the most convincing leaders that any edition has seen at this stage of the season by delivering their fifth win on the bounce.
On a roll
In their first three games, Punjab proved that no total is big enough when they get down to chasing. The fourth, against Kolkata, showed that they could indeed defend a small total. Today, at the Dubai International Stadium, Bailey and his high-flying team-mates set out to confirm that they could also grit it out with the waiting game. It wasn’t pretty or dramatic, but those factors usually don’t convert to points on the table. Ask RCB’s Gayle, who got his maiden appearance this season to as dramatic a start as any.
Twenty runs sizzled off the Jamaican’s blade not long after Bailey tossed the new ball to off-spinner Maxwell. The very first ball was outside edged for four. The third was a leading edge that carried to the sweeper fence. Gayle missed the fourth and looked like he was trapped in front of leg. When the umpire turned down the appeal, Gayle thanked him with two sixes off the next two deliveries. Alas, he wanted one more.
Facing Punjab’s medium pacer Sandeep Sharma for the first continued…