Chris Gayle starred with the bat on his return to the Indian Premier League (IPL) to help Kings XI Punjab to an eight-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah.
Gayle (53) and KL Rahul (61) looked to have made light work of the target of 172 set by RCB. But with 11 runs needed off 18 balls, KXIP made life difficult for themselves with a tense couple of overs before a six off the last ball by Nicholas Pooran settled the game.
Virat Kohli's captaincy was under scrutiny for the RCB, particularly for the decisions to hold AB de Villiers back while batting and then bowling Mohammed Siraj in the 12th over when the required run rate was still over 9. Siraj conceded 44 runs off his three overs and KXIP coasted to victory with Gayle completing a fine 50 in the final overs of the game. He was yet to play a game in the tournament due to fitness concerns.
KL Rahul, who scored 132 against RCB earlier in the season, anchored the KXIP innings once again scoring at a run-a-ball rate while his opening partner Mayank Agarwal attacked the RCB bowling. When Agarwal was out for 45 in the eighth over, KXIP had set up a solid platform for the chase.
The chase came after Kings XI Punjab finally put up a disciplined effort with the bowl to restrict RCB earlier in the evening.
Skipper Virat Kohli top-scored with 48 off 39 balls in his 200th game for RCB but it was Chris Morris' 25 off 8 in the death overs that took the team to a par score.
The final over bowled by Mohammad Shami went for 24 runs but
notwithstanding the wayward 20th over, it was a much improved bowling effort from a team that has been leaking runs in the death overs game after game.
KXIP conceded only 25 runs from over 16-19 before Morris and Isuru Udana hammered Shami for three sixes.
After Kohli chose to bat, KXIP experimented by opening the bowling with Glenn Maxwell (0/28 in 4 overs). KXIP soon dismissed RCB's openers Padikkal and Finch.
But with Kohli looking good at the other end, AB de Villiers was expected to come in at his usual number four spot. Instead, with two leg-spinners in operation, left-handed batsman Washington Sundar was sent ahead of the South African. The move did not work as he struggled to 13 off 14 balls.
KXIP, whose bowling has been the weakest link, did rather well from 11-14 overs conceding just 20 runs to put pressure on the opposition.
RCB needed to move on and southpaw Shivam Dube provided the timely strike, dispatching Ravi Bishnoi to consecutive sixes to amass 19 runs from the over.
Following Dube's dismissal in the 15th over, De Villiers finally joined Kohli at the crease but the late assault only came in the 20th over through Chris Morris. It did not prove to be enough.