KL Rahul struck an unbelievable century as the Kings XI Punjab decimated the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97 runs in a Indian Premier League encounter at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on Thursday evening.
Rahul’s career-best 132 not out helped Kings XI to 206 for three after Virat Kohli had won the toss and elected to bowl first. The right-handed opener struck 14 boundaries and seven maximums, five of which came in the final 12 deliveries of the innings.
Rahul’s unbeaten 132 was the highest IPL T20 total by an Indian as well as by a captain. The Kings XI Punjabi captain needed just 69 balls for his mammoth T20 total and made his fortunes count as he was dropped twice by his counterpart, Virat Kohli, in the 80’s.
In reply, the Royal Challengers were never in the game, having being bowled out for 109 in 17 overs thanks to the spin-twins of Ravi Bishoi (4-0-32-3) and Murugan Ashwin (3-0-21-3). The slide started early on thanks to West Indian Sheldon Cottrell (3-0-17-2) and Indian great Mohammad Shami (3-0-14-1), who had reduced RCB to 4-3.
Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who scored a half-century in the opening match, added 57 for the first wicket off 44 balls before the introduction of leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (4-0-25-1), who clean-bowled Agarwal with a well-directed Googly.
Rahul and Nicholas Pooran (17) added 57 off 39 for the second wicket before Shivam Dube (3-0-33-2) claimed two quick wickets, that of Pooran (17) and Glenn Maxwell (5) before Rahul let loose, in partnership with Kuran Nair (15 not out), with the pair smashing 78 runs off only 29 balls for the fourth wicket.
The pair claimed 49 runs off the final 12 balls of the innings as Dale Steyn (4-0-57-0) and Dube felt the full brunt of Rahul’s onslaught which resulted in Kings XI Punjab posting a daunting 206 for three.
In reply, RCB got off to the worst possible start as Devdutt Padikkal (1) was caught by Bishoi off Cottrell in the first over. Shami struck in the second over of the innings before Cottrell claimed his second wicket in the third over to leave RCB in tatters at four for three.
Aaron Finch (20) tried to get the chase going, striking three fours before being bowled by Bishoi while AB de Villiers (28) and Washington Sundar (30) tried to electrocute the heart of the RCB chase. De Villiers struck four boundaries and a six but was caught on the sweeper boundary by Sarfaraz Khan off Ashwin while Sundar was caught by Agarwal off Bishoi.
Dube, who struck one big maximum, was undone by a quicker delivery from Maxwell (2-0-10-1), being bowled for 12. Ashwin then finished off the innings by bowling Navdeep Saini (6) and trapping Chahal (1) in front to get the Kings XI Punjab season off the mark after having missed out in their first game with a super-over loss.
The Kings XI Punjab next encounter is against the Rajasthan Royals on Sunday while the Royal Challengers Bangalore face the Mumbai Indians on Monday.