Gayle's charmed life
They say IPL is one long party. The celebrations in the 63rd game of the IPL began even before the game did. And there was a valid reason for it too. At the toss, captains hardly ever remember changes made to their sides. Sometimes they mislead fantasy cricket players by naming wrong names. Virat Kohli, though, was at the top of his game. And he made four changes to the Royal Challengers Bangalore side.
The crowd, no doubt ready with fantasy pages open on their smart phones and tablets, acknowledged it with loud applause. Kohli responded too, with a clinched fist.
Adam Gilchrist could apply for a sub-editor's job whenever he feels he is bored with life after cricket. Royal Challengers Bangalore, wearing green kits for a charity, used Twitter handles instead of player names on the back of jerseys. At the toss, the eagle-eyed Gilchrist informed the public that Kohli's jersey had a mistake, that it had the "v" in the upper case, and that Kohli's Twitter handle used the lower case of "v". However, Gilchrist will soon find out he is too old-fashioned for the Twitter generation. Neither the generation nor Twitter cares much for the case. It is case-insensitive.
Chris Gayle used the occasion to shift his jersey number from 333, his highest score in Tests, to 175, his best in T20s.
When Cheteshwar Pujara pushed a ball towards mid-on in the first over and set off for a quick single, everybody leaned in a little. It was a big moment. It always is in Twenty20 games. Because Chris Gayle was slow in setting off, and Piyush Chawla had enough time to aim at his end, this was a bated-breath moment. Gayle has never had a T20 innings ended without facing a ball, and this would have been huge for Kings XI Punjab. The fielders all looked on with hope and anticipation as Gayle struggled, but Chawla's throw missed, and the home crowd sighed in relief.
The miss, part II
One of these days, Kings XI might offer the BCCI all the money and might they can conjure to help the umpiring standards in the IPL. They somehow tend to end up on the wrong sides of these decisions. Gayle would have been dismissed for 4 off 11 had Parvinder Awana's appeal for lbw in the seventh over been upheld. It wasn't an outright howler from the umpire S Ravi, though. It was a right-arm quick bowling to a left-hand batsman, and the ball didn't swing back at all, which is the old-fashioned way to go about these lbws. However, replays showed that Awana had bowled from close to the stumps, cutting the angle, had pitched the ball within the line of the stumps, and would have hit middle. Gayle went to add a further 73 off 42.
Awana might have watched Gayle with agony after he believed he had got him, but he had his own slightly back when he came back to bowl at the death. Gayle had been causing mayhem all around when Awana came back with a yorker in the 19th over. Gayle was on his backside as he overbalanced while trying to save his toe. Two balls later, Awana bowled Gayle to rip the off stump into two. Now that's a story he can narrate to his kids.
The scoring discovery
At the end of the first innings, every scorer in the world except the official ones had Royal Challengers at 175. Official score, though, read 174. Turns out when Virat Kohli was out off what was ruled a no-ball after watching TV replays, only one run was awarded. To make it more curious, Gayle faced the free hit, which suggested they had taken a single. However, the norm with these no-balls - when the third umpire is involved - is that the runs taken are not awarded. There is a previous to this in Test cricket. At Lord's last year, Matt Prior was called back after he was caught off what TV showed to be a no-ball, but England were awarded only one run.
The 12th man
It is bad enough Kings XI have been at the receiving end of crucial umpiring decisions. They could do without their captain going out to field for the opposition. Despite looking to hit hard, Adam Gilchrist was on a run-ball 17 in a tall chase when Azhar Mahmood seemed to have finally broken the early shackles. However, Gilchrist found himself in the way of the powerful off-drive, and couldn't get out of the way in time, turning four into one. He went on to make amends, with his highest score of the season to take Kings XI to a victory that kept them in the competition.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo