IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab opener KL Rahul credits Chris Gayle for making life easier

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Rahul and Gayle have formed a solid partnership. Image: BCCI.

Kings XI Punjab have been the surprise package of the IPL this year with Ravichandran Ashwin’s men defying all expectations to put together a brilliant first half of the campaign.

Much of the franchise’s success this season can be attributed to the starts provided by their in-form openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle.

Rahul has struck two half-centuries along with three other scores of over 30 runs so far while Gayle has already registered one ton and two fifties in his four innings for the franchise.

Rahul has now credited the big Jamaican for making life ‘easier’ at the batting crease.

“He (Gayle) is the most destructive T20 opener in the world. It is a privilege to open the batting with him and it makes my life so much easier,” the India man told PTI in an interaction on Friday.

“When the opposition bowling is focusing on him, that takes a little bit pressure out of me. I can just take my time and I can enjoy my cricket. We have played together for a few years now at RCB and now we are together. We enjoy each other’s company. A great human being. So much fun to be around. A complete entertainer.

“That is what I learnt from Chris. He is always playing the game with a big smile on his face. And he enjoys entertaining the crowd even when under pressure. I think when the opposition is up against him they are always under pressure.”

Ashwin’s men have so far garnered five wins in their seven matches so far and are currently placed fifth in the league table. They could equal league leaders Sunrisers Hyderabad’s tally of 12 points if they beat defending champions Mumbai Indians on Friday night.

The LIVE action for Friday’s meeting between the two sides can be followed here.

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IPL 2018: Playoffs shifted from Pune to Kolkata

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Venues for IPL 2018 playoffs have been changed with the Eliminator and second Qualifier shifted from Pune to Kolkata.

“The governing council has confirmed that Kolkata will host the Eliminator and Qualifier 2 on 23 and 25 May respectively,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Pune was earlier scheduled to host the two games. However, after the Chennai Super Kings were forced to shift their base to Pune due to security issues, the Eden Gardens in Kolkata got the opportunity to host the two playoff matches. Mumbai will host the first Qualifier on May 22 and the final on May 27.

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IPL 2018: Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya's thrilling cameos and other takeaways as Mumbai Indians stay alive

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Rohit' unbeaten 25 was vital. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians kept their playoff hopes alive in the IPL with a thrilling six-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab in Indore on Friday.

Batting first, Kings XI registered 174-6 in their 20 overs before Mumbai chased the target with an over to spare. Rohit Sharma’s men thus registered only their third win of the campaign and climbed to sixth position in the league table.

Here, we look a the key talking points from Mumbai’s six-wicket win.

GAYLESTORM HITS INDORE

While KL Rahul was on song from the start on Friday, his opening partner Chris Gayle took his time to get going. The tall Jamaican started cautiously, scoring two singles in the first nine deliveries he faced.

Come the fourth over of the innings bowled by Hardik Pandya and Gayle went straight to fifth gear. The left-hander smashed the Mumbai all-rounder for three consecutive boundaries. Then, in the final over of the powerplay, Gayle hit Mitchell McClenaghan for a gigantic six out of the park to get the jam-packed crowd at the Holkar Stadium on its feet.

The ‘Universe Boss’ brought up his 24th IPL fifty off 38 deliveries as he led Kings XI’s charge after the dismissal for Rahul. Unfortunately for the hosts, Gayle fell immediately after as he holed out in the deep while attempting to smash Ben Cutting out of the ground.

SUICIDAL SINGLE CUTS SHORT YUVRAJ’S RETURN

Veteran Yuvraj Singh has cut a sorry figure in the IPL this year and his poor form saw him getting dropped from the playing XI. The World Cup winner was handed a return to the side on Friday and had the perfect platform set up by Gayle and Rahul to play himself into some form.

For a while, glimpses of the old Yuvraj were on display as the left-hander struck only his second six of the campaign. That would be the only highlight of his innings though, as two balls later a run-out brought an unfortunate end to his run-a-ball 14.

New man Karun Nair punted a delivery from Krunal Pandya towards point and immediately took off for what was a suicidal single. Yuvraj responded to the call but fielder Evin Lewis was swift and Yuvraj was well short off his mark by the time Ishan Kishan removed the bails.

STOINIS STRIKES BIG IN FINAL OVER

It looked like Kings XI would have to settle for a below par score as the 20th over of the innings approached with the score at 152-5. Then, Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis took charge as he launched into Pandya’s medium pace.

Stoinis struck Pandya for two boundaries and two sixes as 22 came in an expensive final over. The momentum of the match changed with those blows as the good work by the Mumbai bowlers in the death overs came undone.

In hindsight, those 22 runs ended up being extremely crucial as the Kings XI bowlers took the match down to the wire.

ROHIT’S AND KRUNAL’S FIREWORKS WIN IT FOR MUMBAI

Despite opener Suryakumar Yadav striking a 38-ball half-century at the top for Mumbai, the visitors lost their way in the middle and by the time Hardik Pandya departed in the 16th over, the required run-rate had climbed well above 12.

With Kings XI smelling blood, skipper Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya turned up the heat with some exceptionally clean hitting. Coming in at No4, Rohit struck two huge sixes and a boundary in his unbeaten 24 off 15 balls. However, it was Krunal who was the match-winner for the defending champions with the left-hander tearing into Stoinis and Andrew Tye.

Krunal hit two boundaries and a six off the last three deliveries of the 18th over bowled by Stoinis before smashing a six and a four in the penultimate over bowled by Tye to lead Mumbai to a thrilling victory.

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