IPL

Rahul and Gayle power Punjab Kings to streak-ending win

By Sports Desk April 23, 2021

KL Rahul and Chris Gayle powered Punjab Kings to a much-needed victory as they ended a three-game losing streak in the Indian Premier League in emphatic fashion against Mumbai Indians.

On the receiving end of significant margins in each of their previous defeats, the Kings turned the tables in style to surge to a nine-wicket triumph through a superb performance with bat and ball.

Despite a fine 63 from Rohit Sharma, Mumbai could only manage 131-6 as Mohammed Shami and young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi kept them in check.

Captain Rahul and Gayle then made short work of the target of 132, with Kings losing only one wicket in the process and reaching the finishing line with 14 balls to spare.

Rahul hit three fours and as many sixes in an unbeaten 60, while Gayle struck 43 off 35 balls as their partnership of 79 inspired the Kings.

Having already produced scores of 91 and 61 in this season's competition, Rahul laid the platform for a routine chase with a first-wicket stand of 53 with Mayank Agarwal.

Agarwal lofted Rahul Chahar to long-on as he was dismissed for 25, but the arrival of Gayle only served to help the Kings hit the accelerator.

His and Rahul's stand ensured there was never any doubt of them chasing a modest total, Mumbai having failed to offer Rohit sufficient support during their innings.

Rohit helped Mumbai to recover from 26-2 to 105-2 as he and Suryakumar Yadav (33 off 27) steadied the ship.

However, Suryakumar top-edged Bishnoi to Gayle at short third man to start the 16th over and Rohit soon followed in being dismissed when he fired a low full toss from Shami straight to deep square.

Kieron Pollard (16 not out off 12) provided an efficient cameo, but both Hardik (1) and Krunal Pandya (3) failed to get going as Mumbai limped to the finish to give the Kings a straightforward task.

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    Opener Abid carried his bat through the day to reach stumps on 118 not out and Azhar struck 126, having combined in a mammoth second-wicket stand of 236.

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    Pakistan, who handed a debut to veteran seamer Tabish Khan, batted after Babar won the toss, although Imran Butt scratched around for two runs from 20 deliveries before miscuing a pull at Richard Ngarava (1-35).

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    Abid would not have envisaged being joined by Sajid Khan to see out the day, but he will resume alongside the nightwatchman on Saturday having put questions over his place in the side to bed. The opener had a top score of 26 in his 10 Test innings preceding this tour, meaning he needed to back up a 60 in the initial encounter with something more substantial.

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    Azhar's successor Babar has generally become Pakistan's sure thing across all formats and was in blistering form during the recent white-ball trip to South Africa. Not here, though, as he followed up a first-ball duck in his team's innings victory last time out with another single-figure score.

    Muzarabani appears to be a big part of the problem. Since returning to international cricket last year, the seamer has removed Babar on six occasions.

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