Chris Gayle’s magnificent 103* in 63 deliveries propelled Kings XI Punjab to a 15-run win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who was unbeaten in its first 3 games of the tournament.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s bold decision to bat first after winning the toss paid off as the Kings XI finished with an imposing total of 193 for the loss of just 3 wickets in its 20 overs. SRH could only put up 178 for 4 at the end of its innings.
Gayle followed up his solid showing against Chennai Super Kings with an even better performance against a lineup that is regarded as the best bowling contingent in the tournament.
After seeing through a fantastic opening spell from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the West Indian started his onslaught by targeting Rashid Khan, taking the leg-spinner for 42 runs in just 16 balls at an unprecedented strike rate of 262.5.
Gayle was supported by Karun Nair who made an important 31 off 21 balls to keep the other end ticking. The pair put on 85 runs for the third wicket in just 44 balls. Gayle finished the innings with an astounding 11 sixers.
After the game, Chris Gayle said that he has nothing to prove to anybody: “A lot of people said 'Chris has a point to prove.' Virender Sehwag has saved the IPL by picking me. Sehwag said in an interview: ‘If Chris wins you two games, we have our money’s worth.’ I need to have a chat with him about that. I'm glad to be able to get 100 here today. I'm going to miss this wicket to be honest. Time waits for no one, but I'm not here to prove anything to be anyone. I just want to move on, enjoy my cricket.”
The Sunrisers’ chase got off to a terrible start when the team’s top scorer Shikhar Dhawan was hit on the elbow by Barinder Sran in the first over and was forced to retire hurt. Skipper Kane Williamson, who scored 54, and Manish Pandey, who scored 57, took SRH to a respectable total of 178 but never really took off the way KXIP did and eventually lost by 15 runs.
Australian Andrew Tye had a good outing with the ball as he picked up 2 wickets while conceding only 23 runs in his spell. Barinder Sran and Mujeeb Ur Rahman didn’t pick up any wickets, but were extremely economical in their spells as well.
Kings XI captain Ravichandran Ashwin heaped praise on the West Indian batsman after the game. “It was extremely pleasing to see the crowd today, we have never seen this in Mohali. Chris entertained them. One word won't be enough to describe his knock. His style is hard to replicate when it comes off, it's hard to match it.”