Adam Gilchrist, the Kings XI Punjab captain, finally found form with a 54-ball 85 as he led a seven-wicket rout of Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday (May 14). His 118-run partnership with Azhar Mahmood for the second wicket all but ensured that Punjab would cruise home in a match they had to win to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh added 24 in just 2.3 overs before Zaheer Khan, playing his first game of the season, struck to dismiss Marsh. The rest of the bowlers - Ravi Rampaul had been dropped for this game - struggled as Gilchrist and Mahmood first consolidated and then unleashed the big hits. By the time Mahmood was dismissed after making 61 from 41 balls, Punjab needed just 33 off 28 balls.
When Royal Challengers Bangalore last played in front of their home crowd, Chris Gayle had rampaged his way to 175 against Pune Warriors India. The near-capacity crowd that had gathered in anticipation of a repeat was left dismayed as Bangalore slumped to their first home defeat.
Gilchrist's decision to stick Bangalore in paid off as his bowlers came up with some tidy spells before the almost inevitable Gayle assault. With '175' replacing '333' on the back of his shirt, he and Virat Kohli, the captain, were largely responsible for taking Bangalore to 174 for 5.
Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara had been tied down by the new ball pair of Mahmood and Sandeep Sharma. The duo stepped up in the absence of Praveen Kumar, Punjab's premier strike bowler, who was nursing an injury. Pujara, who got off the mark with a boundary, looked in fine touch, but had to go when Parvinder Awana had him caught at backward point.
Bangalore's innings would have suffered a massive blow if S Ravi, the umpire, hadn't turned down an appeal for lbw from Awana when Gayle had made just four. Gayle, who looked scratchy at the start, made the most of his good fortune.
Kohli and Gayle went at a run a ball with occasional boundaries. The first six of the innings came only in the 11th over, and the floodgates finally opened only in the 14th, when three consecutive Gayle sixes off Manpreet Gony set the stage for the late surge.
The two added 137 before Awana finally found a perfect yorker to send Gayle back for 77 off 53 balls. AB de Villiers, who came in next, thumped one straight down the ground but was foxed by a yorker next ball.
Bangalore stay on 16 points, the same as Sunrisers Hyderabad, and will likely have to beat Chennai Super Kings - two-time champions - on May 18 to progress to the playoffs.
Punjab's win ensured that Chennai, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals were assured of a spot in the final four, since no team other than Hyderabad can now reach 20 points.