Gayle, de Villiers seal comfortable Bangalore win
Royal Challengers Bangalore 166 for 5 (Gayle 87, de Villiers 52, Awana 4-34) beat Kings XI Punjab 163 for 6 (Hussey 41, Mahmood 33*) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For a while, Kings XI Punjab showed some fight. Azhar Mahmood turned a middling total into a seemingly challenging one. Parvinder Awana jolted Royal Challengers Bangalore with three early strikes. But the visitors had Chris Gayle. And AB de Villiers. A nearly risk-free partnership of 131 at more than ten runs an over followed, shutting Kings XI out totally.
At 25 for 3 facing an asking-rate touching nine-and-a-half, Royal Challengers should have been pushed much more than they were. That they were not was down to the class of Gayle and de Villiers and the lack of depth in the Kings XI attack.
When they needed someone to increase the pressure after Awana's initial burst, Kings XI instead had Harmeet Singh delivering innocuous legbreaks from a long run-up on a greenish pitch. They were also confronted with two batsmen who were so much in control of the situation that they did not even bother to attack as much as they usually do.
Gayle kept the big strokes away as long as he could rein himself in but that did not deter him from scoring boundaries at will. Awana had just taken out Mayank Agarwal and Virat Kohli in the space of five deliveries. Gayle responded with consecutive fours off Praveen Kumar in the next over.
Awana had Saurabh Tiwary top-edging to the wicketkeeper off the first ball of the sixth over. Gayle responded with another pair of boundaries. He softly turned deliveries through square leg for runs while de Villiers found his timing as soon as he arrived.
De Villiers, in fact, went along at a faster clip than Gayle initially, tapering off towards the end as the latter finally decided to display his range with some huge straight hits.
The game went to the last over only because Gayle and de Villiers fell on the brink of victory. In the end, Royal Challengers had just too much power for a ragged Kings XI unit. That Kings XI even set the visitors a reasonable chase was down to Mahmood, the former Pakistan allrounder debuting in the IPL as a British citizen. He breathed life into a stuttering innings after Kings XI had once again been let down by their batsmen. Coming in at No. 7 in the 16th over, Mahmood smashed 33 off 14 deliveries as Kings XI posted their highest total of the season.
Despite three of five bowlers used going for around six runs an over, Royal Challengers discovered there were still enough weak links in their attack for even a shaky Kings XI line-up to exploit. Harshal Patel disappeared for 44 and Vinay Kumar for 40 as Kings XI took 51 off the final four overs.
Kings XI had sleepwalked to 105 by the 15th over, and the departure of David Hussey off the last ball of that over had further dented their hopes of posting a decent total. Mahmood walked in and completely changed the tempo of the innings. Harshal was thumped over mid-off and midwicket for consecutive boundaries; Vinay was calmly dabbed between the wicketkeeper and wide slip for four.
Royal Challengers had been on top till Mahmood's arrival. Only Shaun Marsh and Hussey had dominated them in a three-over span. Even that partnership had been terminated before it could cause much damage. After playing some pleasing cover drives, Marsh was bowled for 26 as he tried to late-cut Andrew McDonald.
Marsh's fall came after Zaheer Khan, enjoying the bounce on the Mohali pitch and bowling with control from both sides of the wicket, had removed the Kings XI openers early. Stand-in captain Hussey, leading in place of the injured Adam Gilchrist, kept the home side going steadily but fell when they were in need of a late boost. It was to come from Mahmood, and gave their medium-pacers some leeway to exploit a favourable pitch. Awana did that, but Gayle and de Villiers were unstoppable.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo