Middle overs = death overs for Gayle's Kings XI
There are no tenets in T20 cricket. And when Chris Gayle is still holding his shape at the halfway stage, even tried and tested theories can go awry. Gayle had figured out that the Jaipur pitch was two-paced, and he was watchful to begin. Watchful starts are de rigueur for him in white-ball cricket these days. After 11 overs Kings XI Punjab were 75 for 2.
ESPNcricinfo's Forecaster predicted the visitors would end up with an under-par 144. But in the next five overs Kings XI plundered 70 runs, treating those middle overs as the death overs, destroying another established tenet in T20 cricket. Incidentally, in the final four overs, with Gayle having departed, Kings XI managed 39.
Of those 70, Gayle scored half and did not spare any of the Royals' bowlers including the much-vaunted Jofra Archer. In fact, Archer's first delivery to Gayle in the evening was an fiery 149kph toe crusher from around the stumps. Archer wanted to cramp Gayle with the new ball. Gayle knew it. He bided his time. By the time he faced him next, in the 14th over, Gayle nonchalantly picked a length delivery outside off stump and dispatched straight for a six, picking 10 in the over.
Jaydev Unadkat (19 runs) and Ben Stokes (14 runs) also suffered at Gayle's hands before the Jamaican pulled the Englishman into the hands of deep midwicket to miss out on another T20 century. At that point, 15.5 overs, the Forecaster had gone up to 180.
Why did it take Royals so long to bounce Gayle?
Of the 79 Gayle made, all but 15 runs came against deliveries that landed outside his off stump. Gayle scored 64 runs off the 27 balls Royals' bowlers bowled outside off to him. With Dhawal Kulkarni and K Gowtham bowling in the Powerplay on a slow pitch, Gayle was not getting the right pace and length to free his arms. Both men had got him three times previously, and Gayle did not dare to take them on early in his innings.
But anything that was in his arc, Gayle made sure he made use of. Two men who bore the brunt were Jaydev Unadkat and Ben Stokes. In Unadkat's second over, Gayle hit three consecutive fours and then brought up his half-century with a straight six. All the four deliveries were pitched outside off, short or on a length, and came at the comfortable pace in the range of 130kph - bread and butter for Gayle.
Even Archer paid the price, when he tossed up an easy length delivery on the fourth stump which Gayle tonked straight over the ropes for a six. In this mood Gayle likes to carry on and when Stokes faltered to execute the yorker, he cleared his front leg to hit a six over long-off. Stokes did spear in the yorker at full pelt, but Jos Buttler slipped four byes. Having helped himself to boundary after boundary off length balls outside his off stump, he hit it Stokes straight to deep midwicket - a Royals bowler had finally tried to bounce him. The bouncer is a ball that Gayle, especially early on, is not comfortable against, but Archer was not open to test him with one, despite his captain Ajinkya Rahane seemingly asking him to attempt it. Gayle did not mind.
Brisk Rahane gets going in the Powerplay
In the last IPL, Rahane, the Royals' captain and opener, had a strike-rate of 117.69 after the first 10 balls and 127.3 in the Powerplay. Today his strike-rate at the end of the first six overs was 150. Off the first over of the Royals' innings, bowler by IPL debutant Sam Curran, Rahane struck three exquisite fours using characteristics that have defined his strokeplay in Test cricket - timing, touch and that lovely high elbow.
The key element in Rahane's innings in Jaipur was intent. He was willing to go for his shots without holding back. He might have scored just 27, but there's no saying his batting led to a slowdown for the Royals, who, powered by Jos Buttler's fireworks, got to 64 for 0 at the end of the Powerplay.
And yet, none of the above
...was remotely close to being the evening's biggest talking point.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo