Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) clinched an 8-wicket win after squeezing past the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in a last-ball IPL 2020 thriller at Sharjah. After being in a seemingly domineering position, they almost messed it up again.
Bowling first, KXIP did well to restrict RCB in the vicinity of 170 - 171 runs to be exact. The bowlers were assisted by RCB's unusual tactic of promoting Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube up the order, with AB de Villiers sliding down to No 6.
As a result, despite a positive start, RCB failed to keep things going during the middle overs. They might not have surpassed the 170-mark had Chris Morris not come to the rescue with a whirlwind cameo at the rear-end of the innings.
In response, it was Mayank Agarwal and skipper KL Rahul who got KXIP off to solid start with 56 runs without loss in the powerplay. Chris Gayle, who was featuring in his first IPL 2020 game, came in at No 3. He started sluggishly as you would expect with any player who hadn't played a competitive match for months.
Gayle picked up pace in the latter half of the innings and brought up a well-made half-century as KXIP brought the equation down to 11 needed off 18 deliveries with 9 wickets to go. It's not been long since they last lost a game from a similar position and another late scramble awaited them last night.
With 2 runs needed off the last over, they somehow managed to bring it to 1 off 1 with a new batsman on strike. It was up to the left-handed Nicolas Pooran to take his team across the line. The haunting scenes of a similar defeat not so long could have been playing on his mind, but he kept his cool and smoked the last delivery just over long-on's head.
IPL 2020 Points Table
This is KXIP's 2nd victory in IPL 2020 and their first also came against RCB. They remain the lowest-ranked side in this year's competition but a victory like tonight's might just spur them to life.
RCB, on the other hand, were far from their best. The strange tactics surrounding the batting positions might just have cost them two crucial points. They keep their No 3 position on the IPL 2020 Points Table.