Royals Sail Past Gayle-Storm: 5 Top Performances From The Match

The Quint
·4-min read

Riding high on the back of five consecutive wins, three against the top contenders, Kings XI Punjab were eyeing a spot in the battle for the top two, but Rajasthan Royals had other plans, especially the likes of Ben Stokes and Steve Smith.

On Friday evening in Abu Dhabi, the Royals bore the brunt of the Gayle-Storm before responding with some commanding performances to register a seven-wicket win in IPL 2020. It put them above Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in fifth, right in the middle of the fight for a playoff berth.

Chris Gayle gave KXIP a blistering start with 99 runs off 63 deliveries alongside captain KL Rahul, who added 46 off 41 to drive the side to 185/4 in the first innings.

With Mohammed Shami leading the bowling, it was going to be a tough task but that’s Ben Stokes territory. A 26-ball-50 at the top with enough and more support in the form of Sanju Samson (48), Steve Smith (31*) and Jos Buttler (22*) helped round off a good day at work.

The Royals, who broke the record for the highest run chase in IPL early on in the season in Sharjah, completed the task with 15 deliveries to spare!

Gayle-Storm Hits Abu Dhabi

Dropped a couple of times early on in his knock by Riyan Parag (10) and Rahul Tewatia (15), Chris Gayle made the Rajasthan Royals pay heavily, scoring 99 runs off 63 deliveries, peppered with eight sixes and six fours. The Universe Boss, batting at number three, walked out at the end of the second over with his team in a spot of bother and put together a 120-run second wicket partnership with captain KL Rahul.

With Gayle rolling back the years, he drove the KXIP total to a handy score of 185/4 in their 20 overs. In the innings break, Gayle spoke about his knock and said he was disappointed but acknowledged Archer’s brilliant effort.

Gayle’s final six in the innings made him the first cricketer to smash 1,000 sixes in T20 cricket.

Chris Gayle acknowledges the applause for his blistering knock off 99 in Abu Dhabi
Chris Gayle acknowledges the applause for his blistering knock off 99 in Abu Dhabi

KL Rahul’s Supporting Act

The Karnataka man’s been central to the KXIP’s recovery in IPL 2020, however in the business end he was afforded an easier outing with the bat as Gayle took the bowlers to task. Quietly at the other end Rahul kept scoring at decent pace.

Rahul, hoping to lead KXIP to a sixth consecutive win, kept the bowlers occupied as he went onto score 46 off 41 deliveries, with three boundaries and two sixes in the mix. Though he didn’t get a sixth half century, Rahul continues to hold the Orange cap with the nearest competitor close to 200 runs behind.

A Day in Ben Stokes’ Life

With KL Rahul and Chris Gayle firing on all cylinders, captain Steve Smith turned to Ben Stokes and guess what, he did the job! Stokes, who had been hit for only one boundary before that, accounted for Rahul as he looked to slog. Stokes wasn’t done with the ball and finished his spell with the wicket of Nicholas Pooran in the 18th over, well and truly applying the brakes on KXIP’s march.

After the breather, in his new role as opener, Stokes took a leaf out of Gayle’s book as the Royals were off to a rollicking start. Stokes’ brutal hitting got him to 50 off 24 deliveries before England teammate Chris Jordan exacted revenge!

While Stokes wasn’t there to take the team home, the free-scoring start set up the win for the Royals.

Sanju Samson On a Roll

Sanju Samson picked up from where he had left off against Mumbai Indians and was marching on towards a second consecutive fifty. Samson, criticised heavily for his inconsistency, smashed three towering sixes and four boundaries as he kept up the momentum Stokes had provided and allowed an out of touch Steve Smith to play his way back into form.

Unfortunately for Samson, a superb piece of fielding at backward point from Jagadeesha Suchith saw him fall inches short and a couple runs shy of another half-century.

Rajasthan Royals have moved to the fifth position.
Rajasthan Royals have moved to the fifth position.

Steve Smith Guides the Royals Over the Line

The Australian was desperately in need of runs and found the perfect foil in Samson, who had KXIP’s bowlers rather worried. Smith played himself in and once Samson departed trying to back him up on a quick run, the captain stepped up and thrashed Shami for three exquisite boundaries in the 17th over.

Once the dangerous Shami was negated by Smith, Jos Buttler, who also added a few lusty blows of his own, added the final touches to what was a masterclass in chasing in the shortest format of the game.

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