It rarely happens in a Pepsi IPL match that Royal Challengers Bangalore ace Chris Gayle’s blistering innings is overshadowed by somebody else.
The league match between Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab in Mohali on Monday was one such occasion for Gayle, when he smashed 61 runs off 33 balls and helped his team post a huge total of 190 for four in 20 overs.
But it was Punjab’s David Miller, who came up with a 38- ball ton to take the spotlight away from Gayle and Co., and guided his team to a six- wicket upset with two overs to spare.
Miller came to bat on No. 4 at a time when Punjab were struggling at 51 for three in 7.4 overs and the picture looked bleaker when skipper David Hussey departed as at the total of 64 in 9.5 overs.
The 23-year-old South African, who is also part of their Champions Trophy squad, was cautious in the beginning.
“In the beginning the ball wasn’t coming on to bat so easily. I took 13-14 balls to adjust, and got into rhythm thereafter,” he said after the match.
Had Punjab lost the match they would have had to win all their remaining five league matches in order to reach the play- offs. The must- win situation would have taken a toll on many a cricketer, but not Miller.
“Had I thought about the team’s situation, nerves would have got the better of me and I would have faltered. I told myself to focus just on my game and blank out rest of the things,” said Miller, who scored his maiden T20 century on Monday.
Punjab were 95 for four after 13 overs and the vociferous crowd at the jam-packed PCA stadium was slowly switching into silent mode.
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However, soon after that, Miller started punishing the Bangalore bowlers one by one and the decibel levels increased again.
“At that stage, I tried to enjoy myself and play the best cricket I can, and told myself not to get intimidated by the bowlers,” said the left- hander, who smashed eight boundaries and seven sixes during his assault on the Bangalore bowlers.
Miller first took Vinay Kumar to the cleaners and sent him for one six and two fours to score 15 off the 14th over. On the last ball, RCB skipper Virat Kohli dropped a Miller skier and the South African turned the lifeline into the game- winning knock.
RP Singh came to bowl the next over and Miller butchered him for 25 runs with two sixes and three fours. In the next two overs bowled by Ravi Rampaul and Vinay, Miller hit two fours and as many sixes, and completed the 100-run partnership with Rajagopal Sathish, of which 89 had come from the South African’s bat.
With nothing working, Kohli summoned Gayle for the 18th over, but this time Sathish changed gears and smashed him for a six and two fours.
By the time Miller got the strike, the writing was on the wall, and he hit the winning six to complete his ton and sent the crowd into raptures.
“This was one such day when the ball was coming to the sweet spot on the bat. More importantly, my knock came at a day when my team was in desperate need of it. I hope to carry the momentum,” said Miller.