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By Jaideep Vaidya
Mohali: May 6, 2013
Contrasting half-centuries from Chris Gayle (61 off 33 balls) and the returning Cheteshwar Pujara (51 off 48 balls), followed by a typical late surge from AB de Villiers (38 not out from 19 balls) took the Royal Challengers Bangalore to 190 for three against the Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match.
The big news before the match started was that Pujara was back from a finger injury and getting his first game for the Royal Challengers. The pitch at the PCA Stadium promised bounce and movement for the quick bowlers early on, so Punjab skipper David Hussey had no issue fielding first after winning the toss.
KXIP would have been happy with their decision early on as Gayle was content with a boundary an over. RCB went along at just a run a ball for the first four overs. But in the fifth, bowled by Queenslander Michael Neser, Gayle switched on. A short-pitched ball from the medium-pacer was first muscled over deep square-leg for six, before more brute power and a front-foot drive fetched another half-a-dozen over wide long-on.
Pujara then decided he should keep up with his more extravagant teammate as he hit Manpreet Gony for three boundaries the following over. The shots oozed of the purist class that is Pujara as he drove the pacer to the deep mid-wicket fence, before a sweet slice-cut wide of point and third-man got him four more.
Gayle soon brought up his third fifty of the season — and barely acknowledged — it as RCB reached 88 for no loss at the halfway point. The stage was set for a total in excess of 180. Gayle welcomed Gony back for his third over with a nonchalant loft straight down the ground for six. However, Gony was to have his man the very next ball as Gayle tried to pull a full and straight delivery, but missed and was bowled for 61.
Pujara, who was going about at less than a run a ball, then decided to take matters into his hands as he hit Parvinder Awana for two consecutive boundaries, before bringing up his first half-century in Twenty20 cricket. The Saurashtra boy wasn’t to last too long after that as an inside-edge off an attempted cut dragged back onto his stumps to give Gony his second wicket.
Shaun Marsh then took a good catch running back after Virat Kohli mistimed a pull off Parvinder Awana and was dismissed for 14. All of a sudden, KXIP were trying to sneak through the door, but AB de Villliers walked in and shut it on their face with a typical innings in the death overs.
The shot-innovator was out and let loose at the PCA as de Villiers put on 45 runs in the last three overs along with Moises Henriques (16 not out). KXIP have their task cut out if they want to stay alive in this tournament.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 190 for 3 in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 61, Cheteshwar Pujara 51; Manpreet Gony 2 for 41) vs Kings XI Punjab.
Also on cricketcountry.com