Kings XI Punjab have made a resounding start to the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). After losing to Delhi Capitals in Super Over, Punjab scripted a thumping win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. Speaking about team combinations, skipper KL Rahul opens up dropping Chris Gayle from the playing XI.
Approaching to the tournament, it looked like Rahul and Gayle would open the innings for Punjab. They have been one of the star opening combinations in the last couple of editions. However, it came as a surprise when Mayank Agarwal came out to bat alongside KL Rahul.
Chris Gayle will have a huge role to play – KL Rahul
Shedding light on the matter, Rahul said that to drop Chris Gayle in the initial matches has been pretty difficult decisions to take for the franchise. He also said that the Universe Boss is getting fit with each passing day and will soon return to action.
“Chris Gayle has been the biggest match-winner in T20 cricket and to not play a match-winner like Chris is a very hard decision for us. The way he has come back after lockdown, the way he is batting, he is getting fitter and stronger by the day.
“He is striking the ball really well and some point in the tournament he will have a huge role to play,” Rahul said during a conversation on InsideSport’s ‘Amstrad Face 2 Face Cricket Series’.
Punjab return to winning ways
Batting first, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were off to a steady start without taking too much risk. The measured risk was because of the collapse in the last match. But as the innings ticked the 10-over mark, Rahul put on the fifth gear mark hitting everything at his disposal.
During another emphatic knock, Virat Kohli gave a couple of respite to KL Rahul dropping two sitters in the 16th and 17th over respectively. The miss proved to be costly as KL Rahul made the most of the opportunity. He finished at an unbeaten 132 from 69 deliveries including seven sixes and 14 boundaries as Kings XI Punjab posted 206 runs in their 20 overs.
Chasing the massive total, Royal Challengers Bangalore never looked on course. They lost wickets at regular intervals and never really managed to arrest the batting collapse. Sheldon Cottrell and Mohammed Shami were spot-on with the new ball as Punjab reduced them to four for three.
AB de Villiers tried once again to take back charge to the opposition but lacked support. With the run-rate cropping up, wickets tumbled on as leg-spinners – Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin chipped in with three wickets each. Bangalore finally managed to score 117 runs; thus, falling short by 97 runs.