sports punjab

Chris Gayle of KXIP plays a shot during match 31 of IPL 2020 at Sharjah Circket Stadium in Sharjah Oct. 15. (BCCI/IPL/ANI photo)

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates — Chris Gayle’s first appearance in this Indian Premier League helped Kings XI Punjab barely end a five-match losing run on Oct. 15.

Gayle’s 2020 debut was delayed for two matches by a stomach infection, but the wait was worth it as he blasted five sixes in a 53 from 45 balls as Punjab beat high-flying Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight wickets.

But Punjab celebrated its second win — the first was also against Bangalore three weeks ago — only when Nicholas Pooran hit the last ball for six.

Punjab overhauled Bangalore’s 171-7 with 177-2.

Gayle and Punjab captain Lokesh Rahul, 61 not out off 49 balls, looked like they would win this one easily when they needed 11 runs off the last 18 deliveries, but they were tied down by bowlers Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, then Yuzvendra Chahal in the last over.

Gayle was out off the penultimate ball, run out from the non-striker’s end, leaving Punjab needing one run to win off the last ball.

Pooran, Punjab’s best batsman in the league, stepped toward Chahal and hit him over the long on boundary past the outstretched hand of Morris.

“It was quite surprising, we thought the game might finish in the 18th,” Bangalore captain Virat Kohli said.

Rahul and Mayank Agarwal began Punjab’s reply serenely. Agarwal was particularly hard on Chahal, slamming the legspinner for two sixes and two fours before being bowled for 45 off 25 balls at 78-1.

Gayle joined Rahul and was slow off the mark, taking more than four overs before his first big crack back over Washington Sundar.

Meanwhile, Rahul brought up another half-century, and had twice as many runs as Gayle. But not for long.

Gayle took 18 off a Mohammed Siraj over then 14 off Sundar and, suddenly, Punjab’s chase was comfortable. But they left it to the last ball.

“We’re a far better side than bottom of the table,” Rahul said. “Towards the end it got too close for comfort.”

Bangalore openers Devdutt Paddikkal and Aaron Finch made a good start to the match with 38 together after four overs.

Kohli started with a rush of three boundaries but he was quieted for 11 overs in the face of fine bowling by Glenn Maxwell, Murugan Ashwin, and Chris Jordan.

Mohammed Shami took out AB de Villiers on 2 and Kohli two balls later on 48 and Bangalore was only 137-6 after 18 overs.

But Morris and Udana gave them a boost, especially in the last over which went for 24 runs off Shami.

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