Gilchrist helps Punjab stun Bangalore

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Bangalore: Veterans Adam Gilchrist and Azhar Mahmood rolled back the years, leading Kings XI Punjab to a seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in a crucial Indian Premier League (IPL) game here on Tuesday.

RCB were riding high after scoring 174 for three, courtesy a 136-run partnership in 14.2 overs between Chris Gayle (77, 53b, 4x4, 6x6) and skipper Virat Kohli (58, 43b, 6x4, 2x6), but 41-year old Gilchrist and Mahmood, 38, made light work of the target with a splendid 118-run stand for the second wicket as Kings XI coasted past the target in 18.1 overs.

Seamer Parvinder Awana was the pick of Kings XI bowlers with three for 39 while new ball bowler Azar Mahmood came away with two for 25 and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla conceded just 27 runs in his four overs.

Bangalore's bowlers came in for some punishment while they were also unlucky that a few streaky lofted shots by Gilchrist and Mahmood eluded the fielders by a whisker.

The result anchored RCB to 16 points from 15 games while Kings XI moved up to 12 with two more matches in hand. RCB, playing at home after three weeks and six away games, are slated to play favourites Chennai Super Kings here on May 18. Bangalore's loss meant that Mumbai, Chennai and Rajasthan qualified for the play offs.

Kings XI survived the early loss of Shaun Marsh (8) who was bowled by Zaheer Khan, playing his first IPL game this season. From then on, it was a Gilchrist-Mahmood show with the experienced pair playing some clever cricket to ward off Bangalore's attack.

Both Mahmood and Gilchrist batted quite beautifully, timing their shots to a nicety in sharp contrast to Gayle’s brutal hitting earlier in the day.

With the pair gaining in confidence and stature, Kings XI inched their way towards victory and even the loss of Mahmood and David Miller (2) in quick success in the latter part of the innings did not deter the visitors from posting their sixth win in 14 matches.

Bangalore's innings got off to a sedate start despite some boundaries in the early overs by Cheteshwar Pujara who, however, was first of Awana’s three victims, was caught brilliantly by Miller at point.

Thereafter, Gayle and Kohli steadied the ship though runs were hard to come by as the Kings XI bowlers showed a lot of discipline to restrict RCB to just 58 after 11 overs.

However, it was not long before the RCB duo opened their shoulders and chanced their arms to open the floodgates and quite dramatically, runs begin to flow in torrents, especially in the 15th over when seamer Manpreet Gony was slammed for 22 runs, including three consecutive sixes by Gayle.

The 16th over, bowled by Awana saw Gayle and Kohli plunder another 15 runs before Mahmood applied breaks in the 17th, conceding just four despite bowling a series of full-tosses that went unpunished.

However, the RCB batsmen made up by carting seamer Sandeep Sharma, who had bowled well in his first spell, for 20 runs.

Awana, bowling the 19th, first removed Gayle whose off-stump was uprooted by a yorker and then AB de Villiers, who lasted mere two balls, the first of which he hit for a six before losing his stumps attempting a cheeky shot. However, the over cost 14 runs.

Mahmood sent down a decent last over during which he trapped Kohli in front and then had Lokesh Rahul, who smashed two consecutive boundaries, caught in the deep off the last ball.

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