Rajasthan Royals bring an end to five-match winning streak of Kings XI Punjab to remain in hunt for the playoff spots in the Indian Premier League on a day when Chris Gayle rolled back the clock with his vintage form.
Gayle, the Universe Boss, struck a 63-ball 99, but still his effort was not enough to avert Punjab’s seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Rajasthan who climbed to the sixth spot but needing a lot to come into their favor.
They are tied on 12 points each with Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders but stay behind on net run rate with just one league game left. Sunrisers Hyderabad also have a fair chance with 10 points from 12 games.
Mumbai Indians have already qualified for the playoffs with 16 points from 12 matches, while Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals are second and third respectively.
The day initially belonged to Gayle who seemed like winning sixth consecutive game for Punjab after adding 120-run partnership for the second wicket to lead Punjab to 185-3. Rajasthan rode on a collective batting effort to reach the target in 17.3 overs.
Gayle was out in the final over when Jofra Archer inswinger hit his legs before hitting the stumps. The Jamaican agonizingly missed his 22rd century in the shorter version of the game and the miss looked evident when he tried to hit his leg with the bat that ultimately slipped out of his hand. It was the second time in his Twenty20 career that Gayle was out for 99.
His innings included eight sixes and six boundaries. Gayle also became the only cricket to have more than 1000 sixes in the format. Rahul made 46 off 41 with three fours and two sixes. Ben Stokes and Archer took two wickets each for Rajasthan.
Stokes gave Rajasthan the desired start when he hit a 26-ball 50 and was out with 60 runs on the board. A comparatively sedate Robin Uthappa (30 off 23) added another 51 runs with Sanju Samson who once again played a crucial innings for Rajasthan.
Samson made a 25-ball 48 and despite his departure Steve Smith (31) and Jos Buttler (22) had the job done for them.