Royal Challengers Bangalore 166-5 (Gayle 87) beat
Kings XI Punjab 163-6 (Hussey 41) by 5 wickets
Indian Premier League, Mohali
Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers formed a key partnership worth 131 for the fourth wicket to set up a five-wicket victory over the Kings XI Punjab in Mohali as the Royal Challengers Bangalore rejoined the midfield pack in the Indian Premier League 2012 table on six points.
Gayle hit 87 and de Villiers 52 as they replied to the Kings XI score of 163 for six by closing on 166 for five in reply with three balls to spare.
Missing the experience of Adam Gilchrist at the top of the order due to a hamstring injury, Kings XI made an uncertain start, losing openers Nitin Saini (14) and Paul Valthaty (6) to Zaheer Khan.
Shaun Marsh made a useful 26 in 17 balls, with one six and three fours and joined forces with stand-in captain David Hussey, who top scored with 41 in 34 balls.
Marsh fell when he was bowled by compatriot Andrew McDonald and with the dismissals of David Miller for eight and Mandeep Singh for 20, as well as Hussey, bowled by Harshal Patel, their chances of a competitive score looked slim.
However, Azhar Mahmood had other ideas. Making his first start for the Kings XI after his entry to India was delayed by visa problems, he wasted no time in showing what the fans had been missing.
He smacked a brutal 33 in 14 balls, carving three fours and two big sixes while Piyush Chawla hit his first ball for four and then three more to hand the home side a chance at the halfway stage.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore were no more able to secure a solid start for their team in reply. First, Mayank Agarwal was trapped dead in front by Parvinder Awana, who struck again soon after to remove Virat Kohli.
The right-hander had made just four when he drove loosely and was superbly taken at point by Marsh, who almost had Chris Gayle caught moments later but the ball bounced just in front of his outstretched right hand.
They were then 25 for three when Saurabh Tiwary (4) top-edged Awana limply to Nitin behind the wicket.
It brought together in-form pair AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle and they pieced the innings back together, Gayle scoring his eighth IPL half-century and de Villiers stroking some glorious shots, the pair accelerating strongly once they had got in.
Gayle did not disappoint, hitting huge sixes into the crowd when the occasion demanded it and the pair led their side into the final four overs needing 32 to win.
De Villiers reached his seventh IPL half-century by reverse hitting Mahmood over third man for a boundary and by now, Bangalore were in a hurry.
Gayle welcomed Awana back into the attack by drilling him through the covers for another four and then punishing no ball by hitting the resultant free hit for a flat six. Four more followed to third man as he and de Villiers compiled a tournament-high partnership of 131.
It was ended when Gayle was brilliantly caught on the drive by Hussey off Awana and although de Villiers, who made 52 in 39, was trapped in front soon after by Piyush Chawla and the Kings XI took the game down to the final over, the Challengers got home with three balls to spare.
Gayle had hit 87 in 56 balls with eight fours and four sixes.
© Cricket World 2012