Mohali, April 19: Never toss the ball up to Chris Gayle. The towering West Indian will just move his feet a bit to the slow ball and smack it over the ropes. Rashid Khan (1/55) and Shakib Al Hasan (2/28) found out the hard way as Gayle-powered 104 n.o saw Kings XI Punjab snap Sunrisers Hyderabad's three-game winning run during their Indian Premier League (IPL 2018) match at the IS Bindra Stadium here.
Unsold twice during the IPL 2018 auction, Gayle had a point to prove. After his 63 off 33 against Chennai Super Kings the other day, Gayle scored his sixth IPL hundred as Punjab posted 193/3 in their last game in Mohali. They play their next set of home matches at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
After Gayle's big show, the Punjab bowlers put up a commanding performance to restrict Hyderabad to 178/4, winning the tie by 15 runs.
In the fifth ball of the chase itself, Hyderabad were dealt a blow when opener Shikhar Dhawan was hit on the left elbow while trying to cut Barinder Sran, leaving him in pain. Dhawan retired hurt, capping a bad start for Sunrisers in their chase. Captain Kane Williamson was dropped at eight by Yuvraj Singh at cover point, while Yusuf Pathan was served a lifeline due to KXIP captain Ravichandan Ashwin's mistimed jump at mid-off. Williamson went on to make 54 off 41 but it all turned out okay in the end for Punjab. Manish Pandey (57 n.o. off 42) too had a fifty but it went in vain for SRH.
Mohit claimed Yusuf, who got a thick inside edge to be bowled. Opener Wriddhiman Saha struggled and Mohit was there to see him off, his in-swinger kissing the off stump.
However, Punjab kept bowling a tight length and used their spinners wisely - after the sixth over. Mujeeb ur Rahman impressed again, while off-spinner Ashwin continued to upgrade his arsenal with a leg-spinning delivery as well. But it was probably the medium pacers who won it for them. After the early efforts of Mohit, Andrew Tye (2/23) made life hard for Hyderabad.
Dhawan's absence perhaps put more pressure on Williamson, with the required rate rising to 13.11 at the end of the 11th over. Hyderabad started going big only after the 14th over and when Williamson did it, he was caught by Aaron Finch at long-off. Andrew Tye used the knuckleball at just the right time to induce a mistimed shot by Williamson. Hyderabad's required rate rose to 15 in the last 30 balls and proved a bit too much for SRH. Another knuckleball and Tye had his second wicket, this time Deepak Hooda lofting it to the same area.
Earlier, Punjab too were off to a rather slow start after electing to bat, the first time in 16 games that a captain wanted to strike first. KXIP skipper Ashwin did indicate during the toss that he wanted to give his batsmen time to settle down. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/25) bowled four dots before Rahul took a single off the fifth ball to get KXIP off the mark. In the next over, Chris Jordan (0/31) almost had Gayle caught at mid-on but the top-edge went wide off Kane Williamson and Gayle survived. KL Rahul too banked on the DRS to overturn an lbw call off Bhuvneshwar.
The sluggish beginning for Punjab was evident - the hosts were 25/0 after four overs with Gayle smashing a six off Jordan in the 21st ball of the innings. Rashid Khan was hit over the midwicket region for two sixes in the next over and KXIP made up for the early slump. However, the struggling Rahul (18 off 21) departed off Rashid Khan after the ball skid through to strike his right leg in the eighth over. Siddarth Kaul (1/33) snared Mayank Agarwal three overs later.
KXIP then made up by hitting 36 runs between the 3.1 to 5.6 overs, making 49/0 in the powerplay overall. Gayle, whose playing shots are few, changed gears after the 10th over.
The 14th over of Rashid in particular returned big dividends. Gayle struck three big ones over the long-off boundary and then played a sweep over square leg for the fourth one in the same over, which yielded 27 runs.
Gayle wasn't playing the most exquisite shots either. But he packed his hits with power and floated it over the ropes to the crowd's joy. SRH bowlers somehow did not fling yorkers to Gayle, fearing he will charge out and connect it over the bowler. Karun Nair kept Gayle company till the 18th over until he was caught at deep midwicket by Shikhar Dhawan.
Gayle brought up his sixth IPL hundred, cutting Kaul for a single at point. Aaron Finch then routed Rashid Khan in the 20th over with a couple of big shots.