KOLKATA, India, CMC – Talismanic West Indies opener Chris Gayle uncorked another gem of a half-century as Kings XI Punjab beat Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets under Duckworth/Lewis, to storm to the top of the Indian Premier League standings here today.
Asked to chase a revised target of 125 off 13 overs after rain intervened at Eden Gardens, the visitors easily got home with 11 balls to spare, with the in-form Gayle hammering an unbeaten 62 from 38 deliveries.
His opening partner Lokesh Rahul ended on 60 not out from 27 balls, as the pair posted 116 off 58 deliveries for the first wicket.
The left-handed Gayle, with scores of 62 and 104 not out in his previous two innings, belted five fours and half-dozen sixes while Rahul dazzled with nine fours and a pair of sixes.
KKR had earlier rattled up an impressive 191 for seven off their 20 overs with Australian Chris Lynn slamming 74 from 41 balls and captain Dinesh Karthik weighing in with 43.
Robin Uthappa got 34 but West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell managed only 10 and Sunil Narine scored just one at the top of the order.
The left-handed Narine perished with six on the board in the second over, caught in the deep off Afghanistan off-spinner Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman but Lynn inspired two partnerships to drive the KKR innings.
He added 72 for the second wicket with Uthappa and another 62 for the fourth wicket with Karthik, before perishing in the 16th over.
Russell sparkled briefly with two fours before picking out long off with left-arm seamer Barinder Sran.
Gayle and Rahul then gave Kings XI a positive start, gathering 17 runs from the third over from fast bowler Shivam Mavi and another 18 from the fourth over sent down by off-spinner Nitish Rana.
Gayle had just deposited leg-spinner Piyush Chawla over the ropes at long on to move to 49 when the rains arrived in the ninth over with Kings XI cruising at 96 without loss.
When play resumed an hour-and-a-half later, Kings XI required 29 from 28 balls and Gayle wasted no time in lifting the first delivery straight back overhead to bring up his half-century from 24 balls.
Narine claimed Rahul in the following over, top-edging a pull to mid-wicket but the victory remained straightforward with Gayle at the crease.