During one of the matches that Adam Gilchrist sat out of, he complained - not without humour - about how the umpiring mistakes had all been targeting his Kings XI Punjab side. He also said that he might have had a whinge, but his side needed to do better despite umpiring mistakes. It seemed Gilchrist would be left saying something similar tonight after Chris Gayle survived an lbw shout when he was 4 off 11, and went onto help Royal Challengers Bangalore score 122 in the last 10 overs.
Luck turned on the night, though. Gilchrist was plumb at 18 off 16 when he didn't pick a Muttiah Muralitharan doosra. A mix of outside edges, inside edges and some vintage Gilchrist shots, helped by Azhar Mahmood's 61 off 41, stunned Royal Challengers, ending the chase of 175 with 11 balls to spare. Kings XI kept their slim hope alive, and made it difficult for Royal Challengers, who were left fighting Sunrisers Hyderabad for the final playoff place. Sunrisers are level with Royal Challengers, but have a game in hand.
Put in, Royal Challengers needed a huge total on a flat pitch and short outfield, especially given their bowling. For a long period of time, it seemed Royal Challengers wouldn't even get to a fighting total. Kings XI bowled few loose balls in the first half of the innings, and Gayle and Virat Kohli struggled to come to terms with the pace of the pitch.
After their misfortune, Kings XI lost their way towards the end. Once Gayle and Kohli began hitting, the Kings XI bowlers were like rabbits caught in headlights and kept bowling length balls, which kept disappearing. Parvinder Awana, the bowler who had been denied the Gayle wicket earlier, came back to rip Gayle's stump into two in the 19th over. Despite the damage control, Kings XI had been hit hard, and the momentum seemed to have shifted.
However, Royal Challengers bowlers once again had no sting. Theirs is a bit like the typical Indian ODI team under MS Dhoni, with which no total seems safe. Gilchrist was scratching around, and struggling to go at a run a ball when Mahmood joined him. Having bowled two good overs at the death, Mahmood came and smacked three consecutive boundaries in the sixth over to inject some life into the chase.
Gilchrist kept handing over the strike to Mahmood until it was time for both to go. Then Gilchrist got an outside edge for four. Then a four off the inside half of the bat. The best of Gilchrist came against Muralitharan when he charged at him and drove him back over his head for four. He bettered it by charging at the returning Zaheer Khan and sending him back over the sight screen. It all ended in a blur after that, but his driving and sweeping of Murali for consecutive sixes stood out.
Once again Gilchrist called it as he saw it. He pointed out both the lbw mistakes, admitted that he "scratched around like an old chook" in the first half, and that Mahmood deserved the Man-of-the-Match award that he got.