Kings XI Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist apparently kept his word to ensure his team’s fight for berth in semis of IPL. After six matches loss, he saw the team bouncing back with vengeance to win the rest eight matches to keep its hopes alive to qualify for play offs. Yet again, he led the team from the front with a blistering century (106 off 55 balls) to register biggest 111-run victory over the topper of the table – Royal Challengers Bangalore – at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HMCA) Stadium Tuesday night. Gilchrist smashed a superb 106 and shared a record partnership with Shaun Marsh (79) to steer Kings XI Punjab to a mammoth 232 for two. This is the second highest total scored so far in the tournament, first being Delhi Daredevils 231. Though Punjab begun their innings after choosing to bat first on winning toss, by scoring just 30 runs in first six overs and losing opener Paul Valthaty (20), however, took complete control of the game later. Gilchrist whirwing knock, his second century in IPL, came off just 55 balls, which was decorated with nine sixes and eight fours. At the other end, his partner Marsh too was equally impressive as he alongwith Gilchrist put up the record 226-run highest partnership recorded ever for the second wicket in the IPL T20 format so far. Marsh’s unbeaten 79 came off 45 balls and his knowck was studded with 12 boundaries and five sixes. For Royal Challengers it was Johan van der Wath the most expensive bowler as he conceded 50 runs in his quota of four overs while Charl Langeveldt went for 48 runs though he claimed both the wickets which fallen.
On the other hand, young and experienced Virat Kohli leading the Royal Challengers in absence of former New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, fumbled in handling his bowlers against menacing batting by the Australian duo – Gilchrist and March. A baffled Kohli brought spinner Chris Gayle for his second spell but there was no stopping Gilchrist, who hit the West Indian for two more, taking 15 runs from that over. Next in the firing line was Langevedlt, who was hit for three sixes, including the biggest six of the tournament – 122 metres. The third one brought up fifty for the Australian.
In reply, Rajasthan Royals were bowled out for a paltry 121 as none of their star players could click, including in-form Chris Gayle or in-charge skipper Kohli. It was only AB de Villiers who top scored with 34, while Punjab spinner once again showed his class spin claiming 4/17.
With this win, the Kings XI Punjab keeps their close alive for play-off with seven wins to its kitty alongside Kolkta Knight Riders, while Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians had eight wins to their credit. Gilchrist not only had to ensure his team’s eighth win, but also pray for some upsets in next few days to help his team at least quality for play off on better run-quotient. Thus far, he and his franchiser and Bollywood actress Preeti Zinta, has to keep their fingers crossed.