CHANDIGARH, India, CMC – Talismanic West Indies left-handed opener Chris Gayle failed to ignite, but K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal hit half-centuries to lead King’s XI Punjab to a dramatic six-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League yesterday.
Gayle fell early in the chase for 16, but a century, second-wicket stand between Rahul, who carried his bat for an unbeaten 71, and Agarwal seem to put KXIP on course for a pedestrian victory after they were set a target of 151 in the 22nd match of the tournament at the I.S. Bindra Stadium.
Three wickets – including the scalp of Agarwal for 55 – between the 18th and 19th overs of the innings threatened to derail KXIP’s chase.
Needing 11 off the final six balls of the match, Rahul and England star Sam Curran held their nerve and kept their wickets to guide them over the finish line with one ball remaining.
After Curran scored a pair of deuces and a single off the first three balls of the final over from Afghanistan pacer Mohammad Nabi, Rahul formalised the result with a lofted straight drive for four and two runs off the penultimate delivery on a fumble from Australian star David Warner at long-on.
The victory gave KXIP their fourth win of the tournament and places them third in the table with an inferior net run rate, though they are tied on eight points with leaders Kolkata Knight Riders and second-placed Chennai Super Kings.
Earlier, Warner too, carried his bat for 70 not out to anchor SRH to 150 for four from their allocation of 20 overs, after they were put in to bat.
The left-handed opener shared a vital 55 for the fourth wicket with Manish Pandey, after he had put on a crucial 49 for the second wicket with Vijay Shankar.
In the chase, Gayle fell in the fourth over, when he slapped the first delivery from champion Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan to long-on and Deepak Hooda held an outstanding, sliding catch, after running around the boundary to his right.
But Agarwal came to the crease and struck seven fours and one six from 43 balls, sharing 114 with Rahul, whose resistance included seven fours and one six from 53 balls.
When Agarwal was caught at deep mid-wicket off the first ball of the 18th over from Sandeep Sharma, KXIP still needed 19 from 17 balls.
But Sharma had South African David Miller caught at long-on for one off the last ball of the same over and Siddarth Kaul got Mandeep Singh when Hooda took his third catch in that position off the final ball of the 19th over to set up a thrilling finale.
Sharma ended with two for 21 from four overs.