Kings XI Punjab batsman KL Rahul, opening the innings with Chris Gayle against Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, scored his maiden century in the Indian Premier League. His unbeaten century, 100* in 64 balls, took the visiting team to a total of 197/4 in 20 overs. Rahul's knock comprised six fours and six sixes. Rahul, with 317 runs, is currently the second highest run-getter in this season of the IPL, with current Orange Cap Holder David Warner (349 runs) the only batsman to have scored more runs than him.
The 116-run stand in 77 balls by Gayle and Rahul took MI by storm at the Wankhede on Wednesday. Gayle's dismissal in the 13th over slowed down the innings but Rahul punished Hardik Pandya by hitting three sixes and a four in the 19th, which yielded them 25 runs. Thirteen came off the final over to boost the total.
The flamboyant Gayle, who was circumspect initially, struck Australian pacer Jason Behrendorff for three huge sixes and one four to cream off 23 runs to begin the punishing act.
In the ninth over, Gayle struck two fours and another massive leg-side six as 17 came off Hardik Pandya's over to take Punjab to 86 without loss. The left-hander also hit leggie Rahul Chahar, and the Pandya brothers Krunal and Hardik for a six each. He reached his 50 in 31 balls and the team's 100 was raised in 10.2 overs.
Gayle's mayhem ended when he was caught at deep mid-wicket off Behrendorff to nip his opening partnership with Rahul. The left-handed Gayle's departure slowed down the run-rate with Hardik sending back David Miller and Karun Nair cheaply and Bumrah accounting for Sam Curran between the 15th and 18th overs.
Rahul went on the offensive in the last two and in the process completed his century. MI were without captain Rohit Sharma, who was rested as a precautionary measure due to muscle spasm in his right leg.
(With PTI inputs)