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Gilchrist, Mahmood lead Kings XI Punjab to easy win against RCB

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It was a tale of 4 fifties, with Adam Gilchrist and Azhar Mahmood outscoring Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli 146 to 134, and probably more crucially taking 95 balls viz-a-viz the 96 from their opposition to steer the Kings XI Punjab to an unexpected win at Bangalore, and earn them a lifeline in IPL season 6. The Royal Challengers Bangalore didn't score enough runs in the first half of their innings once again, and their bowling continued to be below par, and they paid heavily for it, losing a key game as far as their play-off hopes are concerned.

RCB played host to the Kings XI Punjab at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday afternoon, with both sides in desperate need of a win. RCB were on the cusp of advancing to the play-offs of IPL 2013, while their opponents were mathematically alive but realistically living on borrowed time.

On a wicket that has always been a batsmen's paradise, Adam Gilchrist won the toss and decided to chase. For RCB, veteran left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan made his season debut while another veteran Muttiah Muralitharan also returned. There were further changes for RCB with KL Rahul and Arun Karthik replacing Ravi Rampaul, Murali Karthik, Saurabh Tiwary and Abhimanyu Mithun. The Kings XI Punjab meanwhile left out Praveen Kumar for Manpreet Gony and brought back Manan Vohra and Azhar Mahmood for Harmeet Singh and Luke Pomersbach.

Skipper Virat Kohli said at the toss that a score of about 160 should be competitive, and the RCB seemed to have thought about their approach to this game in great detail as they made a cautious start to their innings. Chris Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara nudged and dabbed the ball around as the RCB made a steady 22 runs in their first four overs.

RCB lost their first wicket in the fifth over, when Awana struck and had Pujara caught at point by David Miller for a 20-ball 19. Skipper Virat Kohli walked out to join Gayle and looked in sublime form with a classical drive through the covers for four off his third delivery. On the whole though, RCB still played cautiously for the first ten overs and didn't look to go after spinner Piyush Chawla when he came on in the seventh over. The most expensive over in the first ten was over number nine, which cost just 9 runs, and RCB were 52/1 at the midway stage of their innings.

The Royal Challengers after a slow first half looked to up the ante in the second half of the innings. Chris Gayle and Skipper Virat Kohli took to the Kings XI bowlers and Virat Kohli hit the first six of the game in the 12th over off leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. Chris Gayle then made little matter of seamer Manpreet Gony's bowling, smashing him for three consecutive sixes in an over, taking RCB over the 100-run mark and collecting 22 runs from over number 15. Skipper Virat Kohli had a lucky break in the next over when he was caught in the deep only for Azhar Mahmood to have over-stepped on that delivery. He went on to make 58 before being dismissed in the last over off Mahmood.

Gayle carried on with his merry ways and took seamer Sandeep Sharma to the cleaners, smashing him for 20 runs and looked set to help RCB post a commanding total but fell soon after to Parwinder Awana for 77. AB de Villiers smashed his first ball out of the park but fell in the same over to Awana, before KL Rahul scored 8 runs off the last over to help RCB end on 174-5.

The Kings XI Punjab innings mirrored the Royal Challengers' in the way in which it too had two predominant scorers, but the way they went about scoring the runs was differed vastly. With a target in mind, KXIP changed their batting order to put their four overseas players at the top and decided to go after the bowling right from the off.

Shaun Marsh fell for 8 from 4 balls after striking two boundaries, but Adam Gilchrist and Azhar Mahmood laid waste to the RCB bowlers to power their team to an unlikely win. The duo added 46 runs in the powerplay, ensuring that they were not too much behind the asking rate, and spared none of the RCB bowlers, who were guilty of not trying anything different to try and force a different outcome.

Gilchrist and Mahmood (61) added 118 for the second wicket in just about 13 overs, taking the game away from the hosts. Mahmood fell to Jaidev Unadakt, and David Miller was bowled for 2 to send mild flutters in the KXIP camp, but today was Gilchrist's day as the skipper could do no wrong, smashing 85 from 54 balls to power his side to an excellent win.

The result continues to keep Kings XI alive in the tournament, and who knows, perhaps a miracle could happen. For RCB, though this is definitely two points dropped, and now they will need someone else to do them a favour or two if they are to cement a spot in the play-offs.


KXIP: A Gilchrist (c & wk), S Marsh, M Singh, A Mahmood, D Miller, R Sathish, M Vohra, P Chawla, M Gony, S Sharma, P Awana.

RCB:  C Gayle, C Pujara, V Kohli(c),  Ab de Villiers, KL Rahul, M Henriques, A Karthik(wk), Z Khan, J Unadkat, M Muralitharan, R Vinay Kumar.

Mini Scorecard:

Royal Challengers Bangalore  174-5(20 overs, 8.75rpo)

C Gayle 77(53) P Awana 3-39

V Kohli 58(43) A Mahmood 2-25


Kings XI Punjab 176-3(18.1 overs, 9.68rpo)

A Gilchrist 85*(54) Z Khan 1-30

A Mahmood 61(41) J Unadkat 1-34

Kings XI Punjab win by 7 wickets