New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Fiery half-centuries by Chris Gayle and skipper KL Rahul propelled Kings XI Punjab to an eight-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in game 31 of the Indian Premier League 2020 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday. Chasing 172, Punjab got off to an excellent start, with openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal bringing up 50-run stand inside powerplay.

The run-chase briefly went off the track in the middle over, but a flurry of sixes by Chris Gayle and Rahul put the pressure back on Bangalore. The two brough up their half centuries and it felt that Punjab will manage to chase down the total with more than an over to space. However, tight bowling by RCB in the final overs dragged the match to the last ball. Gayle was run-out on the penultimate ball of the innings and the match could have gone into super over, but Nicholas Pooran lofted the final delivery over long on for a six.  

“It was quite surprising, because it went down to the wire. A bit of pressure can confuse you, it was a good performance by Kings XI in the end,” RCB skipper Virat Kohli said after the match. “There was no conversation between Yuzi and me to be honest. Things became interesting to be honest. They kind of let us come back in the game, because I think it should have ended by the 18th over.”

Opting to bat first, Royal Challengers Bangalore got of to a decent start but lost both openers by the seventh over. Virat Kohli took charge of the innings in the middle overs, before being dismissed by Mohammed Shami in the 18th over of the match. A flurry of sixes by Chris Morris propelled the team to a respectable total of 171. 

Despite the emphatic win, Punjab are still placed at the bottom of the points table. Notably, both of the team's wins in the tournament have come against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The match marked the return of Chris Gayle in Punjab's playing XI. The Jamaican cricketer had warmed the bench for the first seven matches despite the poor perfance of the middle order. 

“Gayle has not been feeling well in the last couple of weeks. But he is hungry even at 41. He always wanted to play from the first day. He was training hard, he wanted to be out on the park. It was a tough call to make and not make him play,” KL Rahul said after the match. 

Posted By: Lakshay Raja