Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Friday pulled off a clinical run chase to beat Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by seven wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
KXIP put up 185/4 wickets due to a blistering 99 off 63 balls, but RR themselves got off to a quick start due to Ben Stokes's 50 off 26 balls at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. RR finished at 186/3 wickets in 17.3 overs.
Stokes hit six fours and three sixes as the opening partnership between him and Robin Uthappa raced to 60 within the powerplay. Sanju Samson then struck up a 51-run stand with Uthappa, but he was denied a half-century when he was run out in the 15th over. Uthappa, meanwhile, fell in the 10th over to Murugan Ashwin.
Steve Smith and Jos Buttler then saw them through to the end with an unbeaten 41-run stand for the fourth wicket. The result takes RR up to fifth place on the points table with 12 points, and level with KXIP, who remain fourth due to their superior net run rate. RR are also level on points with Kolkata Knight Riders who they replaced at sixth place.
Earlier, Gayle hit six fours and eight sixes on his way to 99 off 63 balls. He surpassed 1,000 sixes in the shortest format of the game. Gayle, 41, is way ahead of his nearest competitor, fellow West Indian and a Mumbai Indians' player Kieron Pollard, who has hit 690 sixes in T20 format and is 311 adrift of Gayle's 1,001.
The left-handed batsman, who was benched in the initial part of the tournament, has got starts in all the innings since his comeback to the XI. He had a highest score of 53 this season before Friday's knock. This was his third 50-plus score in six matches in this IPL.
Brief scores: KXIP 185/4 wkts in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 99, KL Rahul 46; Jofra Archer 2/26) lost to RR 186/3 wkts in 17.3 overs (Ben Stokes 50, Sanju Samson 48; Murugan Ashwin 1/43) by seven wickets