MOHALI, March 30: KL Rahul played the role of a sheet anchor to perfection as Kings XI Punjab returned to winning ways with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in an IPL encounter here on Saturday.
The talented Rahul was unbeaten on 71 off 57 balls with KXIP reaching the 177-run target in only 18.4 overs. This was KXIP�s second win in three games while MI lost their second game.
The India international hit six fours and a six but what stood out was the manner in which he paced his innings.
He played second fiddle to perfection till the dashing Chris Gayle and the flamboyant Mayank Agarwal were at the crease but upped the ante when it was required.
The 15th over bowled by Hardik Pandya swung the match decisively in KXIP�s favour with 19 runs coming off it.
Once the pressure was off, Rahul hit the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah for successive fours to literally close the match.
Gayle (40, 24 balls) batted in a manner only he can as he cleared his front leg and hit those towering sixes before Pandya brothers joined hands to send him back to the dug-out after an opening stand of 53.
Gayle failed to get required elevation off a Krunal delivery and Hardik caught him in the deep. Rahul was barely into double figures when Gayle got out.
The next partnership was equally interesting as Agarwal (43, 21 balls) was in great nick during the 64 runs that he added with his close buddy Rahul in only 6.1 overs.
Pandya brothers had a dismal day with the ball as Krunal gave away 43 runs in his four overs and Hardik 39 runs in three overs.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma lbw b Viljoen 32, Quinton de Kock lbw b Mohammed Shami 60, Suryakumar Yadav lbw b M Ashwin 11, Yuvraj Singh c Mohammed Shami b M Ashwin 18, Kieran Pollard c Agarwal b Tye 7, Hardik Pandya c Mandeep Singh b Mohammed Shami 31, Krunal Pandya c M Ashwin b Viljoen 10, Mitchell McClenaghan not out 0, Mayank Markande not out 0. Extras: (LB-3, W-4) 7. Total: (for 7 wickets in 20 overs) 176. Fall of wickets: 1-51, 2-62, 3-120, 4-126, 5-146, 6-162, 7-175. Bowling: Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-26-0, Mohammed Shami 4-0-42-2, Hardus Viljoen 4-0-40-2, Andrew Tye 4-0-40-1, Murugan Ashwin 4-0-25-2.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul not out 71, Chris Gayle c Hardik Pandya b Krunal Pandya 40, Mayank Agarwal c & b Krunal Pandya 43, David Miller not out 15. Extras: (LB-1, W-7) 8. Total: (for 2 wickets in 18.4 overs) 177. Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-117. Bowling: Mitchell McClenaghan 4-0-35-0, Lasith Malinga 3-0-24-0, Jasprit Bumrah 3.4-0-23-0, Hardik Pandya 3-0-39-0, Krunal Pandya 4-0-43-2, Mayank Markande 1-0-12-0. � PTI