Mohali: KL Rahul (71 n o, 57b, 6×4, 1×6) played the role of a sheet anchor to perfection as Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) returned to winning ways with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in an IPL encounter here Saturday.
Rahul played second fiddle to perfection till the dashing Chris Gayle (40) and the flamboyant Mayank Agarwal (43) were at the crease but upped the ante when it was required to reach the target in 18.4 overs.
The turning point of the match came in the 15th over bowled by Hardik Pandya (0/39) who gave away 19 runs to swing the match decisively in KXIP’s favour. Once the pressure was off, Rahul hit the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah (0/23) for successive fours to literally close the match.
Gayle who hit a half century in their opener batted in a manner only he can as he cleared his front leg and hit those towering sixes before Hardik and his brother Krunal joined hands to send him back to the dug-out after an opening stand of 53.
The next partnership was equally interesting as Agarwal was in great nick during the 64 runs that he added with his close buddy Rahul in only 6.1 overs.
Earlier, a quick-fire 31 from 19 balls from Hardik lifted MI to a fighting 176/7 after a middle-order collapse despite a strong start by skipper Rohit Sharma (32) and Quinton de Kock (60, 39b, 6×4, 2×6).
The South African left-hander along with Rohit provided a great platform with a 51-run partnership for the opening wicket in just 5.2 overs.
However, just after the openers departed it was the lesser-known Murugan Ashwin (2/25) who triggered the collapse with two quick wickets in a span of six runs to halt Mumbai’s run. Ashwin first got rid of De Kock in the 13th over before coming back to dismiss dangerous Yuvraj Singh (18).
The KXIP pace troika of Mohammed Shami (2/40), Andrew Tye (1/40) and Hardus Viljoen (2/40) took wickets but bowled a lot of loose deliveries, giving away 13 fours and three sixes.
Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 176/7 (Quinton de Kock 60; Murugan Ashwin 2/25) lost to Kings XI Punjab 177/2 (KL Rahul 71 n o, Mayank Agarwal 43) by eight wickets.