RR have looked a different team since their overseas stars struck form. Leading from the front was Ben Stokes, who starred with a fifty, followed by Sanju Samson who was run out after a quickfire 48. Opener Uthappa too contributed 30 in a solid start for the team.
In pursuit of 186 for victory, RR never looked behind as although they lost wickets, the incoming batsmen kept scoring boundaries to keep the team abreast of the required run rate. While Steven Smith played a useful hand at number 4, it was Jos Buttler who looked in a hurry to finish things off for RR.
In the process, RR managed another impressive win. By winning with as many as 15 balls to spare, they also closed the gap with KXIP on net run rate and suddenly look likely to make a late dash for the playoffs.
Gayle's second IPL 99 takes KXIP to 185/4
Earlier in KXIP's innings, Jofra Archer was too good for KXIP opener Mandeep Singh, as he followed up his match-winning half-century against KKR with a golden duck. Though KL Rahul batted was cautious in his ways, he did ensure that RR made no further inroads till the 13th over, when he was dismissed for 46.
Though there were fireworks from Nicholas Pooran at the end, the biggest contributor by some distance was Chris Gayle. His innings featured some fearless hitting - bringing up the milestone of 1000 career T20 sixes - and though it ended in heartbreak at 99 runs, it did give KXIP an excellent chance to knock RR out of the competition and secure their path.
IPL 2020, KXIP vs RR: Who was the Man of the Match?
Gayle's memorable 99 turned back the clock, and signalled that the T20 great is not quite finished. While Archer's economical, wicket-taking performance in a high-scoring game stood out, it was Ben Stokes who was named the Man of the Match.
With ball in hand, Stokes finally made use of his full quota of overs. In a welcome change, he was effective at keeping the runs down - also accounting for two wickets in the form of the dangerous KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran. In the field, he took an exceptional diving catch to dismiss Mandeep in the first over.
With the bat, Stokes carried on from his unbeaten hundred to post 50 runs at a strike rate of 192, ensuring RR started well ahead of the required rate. Thus, for his all-round display, Ben Stokes was the Man of the Match in yesterday's IPL game.Published 31 Oct 2020, 00:26 IST