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It doesn’t happen very often that Chris Gayle plays one of his trademark blistering knocks and his team ends up on the losing side. But the intent and spirit of theKings XI Punjab unit won over the pyrotechnics of the Caribbean dasher.
Not one to frown over defeats, the Royal Challengers Bangalore opener was cool as ever even after his 42-ball 71 runs went in vain. Graciously, he also doffed his hat to the KXIP bowlers for keeping him quiet in the first six overs.
Excerpts from his exclusive chat with iplt20.com after the match:
You almost took the game away from them, after they were cruising at one point.
We almost won it in the last over. We did pretty well to take the game to the last over when they were chasing 160 on a batting track. I think, we fell about 20 runs short. I and Virat set up a 100 [odd] runs partnership and [I] got out in the 16th over; that really put us back. It was a decent game, and now we have to win all the matches to see ourselves through to the semis. And sometimes, in such a situation, we can be a bit more dangerous.
Talk us through that 111-meter-long six. Have you ever hit the ball higher than that?
I can’t recall it at this point of time, but I think I am lucky to have hit the ball that far. Like I said, it’s a good wicket and once you start hitting the ball, it’s easy to hit boundaries. I am disappointed to lose the game again, but we have to move on as quickly as possible. The situation is very crunch if you look at the points table. Everyone is beating everyone. What do you have to say about that?
I think this has been the most exciting IPL. Everyone has beaten everyone. Only DD has managed to win most of their games. It’s been fantastic for the IPL. We have to play hard and win rest of our games and see us through the semis, and then try to get a shot to [win] the trophy.
Do you think bowling is falling a bit short as compared to the batting?
Sometimes, it’s our batting, which lets us off, and sometimes, it’s our bowling. It’s a T20 game where both our batting and bowling has to come off well. In this format, batsmen come hard on the bowlers, but we still have to dig deep though. It’s tough.
Middle and lower order is a bit of concern.
Sometimes, our top order has collapsed as well. AB [de Villiers] has been getting runs for us in the middle, but didn’t get what he wanted today. We got to take our chances in the first six overs, so there is nothing wrong in losing a wicket or two. We got to try and consolidate, and do well.
Partnerships of brilliance, a captain’s innings, venomous bowling and gravity-defying catches – highlights of the fourth week of a rapidly intensifying season. While some of our top performances figure in winning causes, there have also been some commendable efforts that were not rewarded with a win. But then this tournament is also about courage under fire and individual resistance. Take a look at the week’s shining stars. The Rayudu-Peterson Show
Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab – April 25, 2012
On a good batting track, hosts Kings XI Punjab won the toss, opted to bat first and posted a competitive 168 for three. The visitors got off to a good start with openers James Franklin and Sachin Tendulkar adding 52 in 7.5 overs. But the dismissal of both batsmen in the space of nine deliveries put the match in the balance.
KXIP strengthened their grip by picking up the wickets of Dinesh Karthik and the dangerous Kieron Pollard in the next four overs. MI slipped further when the well set Rohit Sharma (50) and Harbhajan Singh departed in the 18th over with their team needing another 34 runs off the final 14 balls.
Just when it looked like KXIP had the game in control, there was one final twist. Robin Peterson, playing his first game of IPL 2012, combined with Ambati Rayudu to guide MI to an improbable win. Peterson reverse swept Piyush Chawla’s first delivery (of the 19th over) for a boundary, followed it up with a switch-hit to the cover boundary and then slog-swept a six over midwicket.
A single off the fourth delivery meant it was Rayudu’s turn to strike big, and he did that in style. Advancing down the track, he sent the ball high and wide over the fence at long-off. For the final delivery of the over, he came down yet again, this time sending the ball over long-on. After that 27-run over, Mumbai Indians needed five off the last six balls, and they got there rather comfortably, with one ball to spare.
Rayudu had scored 34 off 17 deliveries, while Peterson had scored 16 off 7, and their match-winning partnership was worth 36 runs (of just 13 balls).
Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians – April 27, 2012
Having asked their opponents to take first strike, Mumbai Indians had done well to keep the Daredevils’ opening pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Virender Sehwag down to one run off the first over, and three off the first five deliveries of the second over.
RP Singh then dished out a short and wide one, and Sehwag duly obliged sending it to the point fence. Jayawardene got stuck into his compatriot Lasith Malinga in the next over and scored 15 runs off him. It appeared that each batsman was trying to outscore the other and the MI bowlers were left with few answers. At the halfway mark in the innings, Jayawardene had 40 from 31 balls, Sehwag had scored 44 runs from 29 balls, and DD were sitting pretty at 88 for no loss.
Kieron Pollard was introduced into the attack in the 11th over and he got a taste of his own medicine; the DD skipper got stuck into him straightaway and dispatched the first ball into the stands at square-leg to bring up his half-century. He then scored two fours and a six off the same over which saw 23 runs being added to the scoreboard.
When Jayawardene was eventually dismissed in the 14th over, the Delhi Daredevils openers had added 135 runs in 79 balls. MI never recovered from the thrashing they received from the DD openers and went down by 37 runs in their chase of 208.
Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore – April 28, 2012
Gautam Gambhir is known to be an intense player who plays as per the needs of his team. The Kolkata Knight Riders skipper batted at No. 3 in the team’s first two matches this season, but when that formula didn’t quite work, he decided to shoulder more responsibility and open the innings. That move seemed to do wonders with KKR going go on to win four of their next six matches (one of which was abandoned).
After KKR had opted to bat first in their home fixture against the Royal Challengers, the pressure must have been on Gambhir to get his team to a good total given the might and depth of the RCB batting line-up. That the KKR skipper came out with a lot of intent was evident from his first shot, a fierce cut off Zaheer Khan that raced to the point boundary.
With his opening partner Brendon McCullum going steady at the other end, Gambhir took it upon himself to go after the RCB bowlers, and he did that in style. Scoring runs all around the park against every bowler, Gambhir played some brutal strokes and batted until the 19th over; his innings of 93 – his best effort in T20 cricket – was the key contribution in his team’s total of 190.
RCB never recovered from the battering they received at the hands of Gambhir and eventually fell short by 47 runs. Steyn spews fire
Deccan Chargers v Mumbai Indians – April 29, 2012
Mumbai Indians put Deccan Chargers in on a Wankhede track that had some juice in it and skittled them out for 100 in 18.4 overs.
In normal circumstances you’d expect the team chasing to comfortably overhaul the total. But on this occasion, MI had to overcome the resistance presented by the world’s best bowler – Dale Steyn.
The South African lived up to that top billing with perhaps the best spell of IPL 2012. Bowling quick, full and getting the ball to move away ever so slightly, Steyn was in full force; he breached the defence of compatriot Richard Levi with the first ball of the run chase and beat Rohit Sharma’s bat thrice the same over. His second over saw Sachin Tendulkar get off strike with a streaky outside edge, while Sharma’s struggles continued for the rest of the over.
Steyn continued to fire in the remaining two overs; he had Dinesh Karthik caught behind, found the outside edge of Sharma’s bat time and again, and even troubled James Franklin. Steyn’s figures at the end of the spell (4-0-10-2 – with three of the 10 runs coming in wides) don’t do full justice to the magic on display. He should have had the wicket of Franklin too had Amit Mishra not bungled a catch at the point boundary. Bravo leap of faith
Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab – April 28, 2012
Piyush Chawla was comprehensively beaten by a slower one from Albie Morkel; way too early into the pull shot, he only managed a top edge that sent the ball high into the skies.
For a moment it appeared to be headed in no man’s land. However, that feisty Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo – forever making things happen on the field – didn’t seem to think so. He charged in several paces from long-on, overshot by a yard or two, pulled the brakes, leapt high and back in the air and pulled off an unbelievable catch.