Chris Gayle has been something of a talisman for the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) this season. His inclusion not only guaranteed runs at No. 3 for a side that was over-reliant on their openers, but also coincided with a spate of five consecutive wins. Despite Gayle looking at his best this season, however, he could not prevent the Rajasthan Royals (RR) from doing the double over them.
Being put in to bat, KXIP lost an early wicket, but consolidated with KL Rahul and Gayle to put up 120 for the second wicket. After Rahul departed for his measured 46, Gayle continued on to smash 99, losing his leg-stump to be denied a hundred. He also reached the distinguished landmark of 1000 career T20 sixes. A quickfire cameo from Nicholas Pooran was important, in the absence of something similar from Glenn Maxwell, to provide late impetus once Gayle departed.
Chasing a steep 186 for victory, RR started well with Uthappa and Ben Stokes putting on 60 inside the powerplay. Stokes built upon his impressive performances in the field and with the ball to score a vital 50 off 26 to push ahead of KXIP. Smart batting and run rate management from Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Jos Buttler took RR past the target - needing 30 from 4 overs, Buttler ensured it was done in the next 9 balls.
In a commanding win for RR that has opened up the IPL 2020 points table with a number of teams in contention, some players were unable to meet expectations. Here are the top three such players.
#3 Mohammad Shami (KXIP)
Instrumental for KXIP in their wins thus far by picking important wickets, and playing a starring role in their Super Over win against MI, Shami was once again expected to defend a total with wickets up front and keeping the runs down. Unfortunately for him, he struggled to do either against RR.
In his first two overs, he did not have much luck as Uthappa and Stokes took toll with three boundaries scored as he conceded 17. Knowing his utility, KXIP reserved him for the death, and with 30 needed off 4 overs, it was down to him to make a match out of it. Unfortunately, Shami bowled a horror over which went for 19 runs, effectively ending KXIP's chances in the game.
#2 Varun Aaron (RR)
RR's merry-go-round regarding the third pacer to accompany Jofra Archer and Kartik Tyagi continued with the slot machine choosing Varun Aaron for his pace and knuckle ball skill. Unfortunately for RR, Tyagi too had an off day, which meant it was Archer's 4-0-26-2 on one end and two expensive pacers on the other end.
There was not much to write home about for Aaron, as he was torn into in his quota of four overs, to end up with figures of 4-0-47-0. He was lucky to have capable batsmen chase down the KXIP total, as the finger would have been pointed at him and Tyagi had RR gone down and been eliminated.
#1 Mandeep Singh (KXIP)
Coming back after an important innings against KKR that bolstered KXIP's chances, Mandeep Singh was unable to keep up the good work. A Jofra Archer bouncer was too good for him, as he was dismissed off his first ball trying to fend it away - with Ben Stokes' diving catch completing the sequence.
While Mayank Agarwal's absence at the top had not thus far resulted in losses, it was inevitable, given the kind of influence he had on proceedings with his attacking strokeplay, taking pressure off of KL Rahul. This was one match where despite Rahul and Gayle contributing, the total was not enough - more contribution from Mandeep may have amended that issue.Published 31 Oct 2020, 10:48 IST