Mohali: Two sensible innings from Gayle (87) and AB de Villiers (52) made sure that Royal Challengers Bangalore were comfortably home by 5 wickets. In the absence of their regular skipper, Punjab managed to put up a competitive total, courtesy a cameo played by Azhar Mahmood.
Mahmood who made his IPL debut made an immediate impact as he added some fire to the Punjab batting line-up. The former Pakistan all-rounder scored 33 runs from just 14 balls which were very crucial for Punjab. He made sure that his side gave Bangalore a competitive total to chase. In the absence of their veteran team-mate, Marsh (26) and Hussey (41) were well aware of the responsibilities but both of them failed to put up a big score. Marsh who was looking in good touch was bowled by McDonald who troubled the batsmen with his line and length. Hussey on the other end, perished in the 15th over after which Mahmood took charge.
164 seemed to be a mammoth target as Bangalore lost three early wickets for just 25 runs. It all began in the second over when Parvinder Awana scalped Mayank Agarwal (1) and Virat Kohli (4) producing a dream start for Punjab. Saurabh Tiwary who was promoted ahead of de Villiers failed to impress with the bat this time as he too was scalped by Awana. But the celebrations didn’t last long for Punjab as AB and Gayle stabilized the innings and snatched the match away from Punjab. It was the 131-run partnership between the two which sealed the victory for the Challengers.
As Bangalore kept losing wickets, Gayle didn’t panic and played with ease. He and de Villiers played some of the best shots we have seen in this IPL and every now and then he managed to hit sixes without any footwork. Initially he kept a check on his shots and once he was set with enough runs on the board, he didn’t hesitate in hitting big blows. In the initial phase of the partnership, it was AB who was hitting most of the boundaries but Gayle kept his cool and dropped the anchor. Punjab needed something special to break the partnership and Hussey produced it. He took a spectacular catch to dismiss Gayle, but it was probably too late for Punjab. The left-hander feel in the 19th over to Awana, not before he had smashed him for 15 runs in the same over.
It was once again the Gayle storm that demolished Punjab. The only difference being that this time the spectators managed to remain unhurt.