David Miller scored the third-fastest century in Indian Premier League history and single-handedly powered Kings XI Punjab's remarkable chase, keeping alive their hopes of qualifying for the play-offs. His unbeaten 101, off just 38 balls, helped Punjab to a six-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mohali yesterday.
After being asked to bat, half-centuries from Chris Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara ensured that Bangalore put up 190 for three. But, in response, Punjab could not string together a big enough partnership.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals and the required rate kept increasing. They were two down at 25 when Gurkeerat Singh and David Hussey, the captain, hinted at a fightback with a steady 26. But Murali Kartik trapped Gurkeerat in front of the stumps and Hussey holed out to Kartik in his next over, as Punjab desperately searched for a big score.
It was then that Miller took charge. Having started slowly, he raced to a half-century off just 24 balls. Boundaries were in free flow in what was a destructive show of batsmanship. He was dropped by Virat Kohli at short cover when on 41, and to say it was costly would be a huge understatement.
The dropped catch seemed to deflate Bangalore, and Miller just carried on, plundering everything and everyone Bangalore threw at him. The required rate, which seemed unattainable for a time, became more than manageable as Miller raced into the 90s.
With 19 required, R Sathish, who had been quiet until then, joined the festivities with three consecutive boundaries. But fittingly, it was Miller who capped things off with a huge six straight over the sightscreen - his seventh six of the innings, apart from eight fours.
Earlier, Pujara and Gayle put up 102 for the opening wicket, with Gayle picking on Michael Neser, the 23-year-old quick bowler from Australia playing in his first match this season. He was hit for consecutive sixes, the first slogged over deep square-leg and then, with feet barely moving, lifted the second high over midwicket.
Pujara then got into the act, hitting three fours off Manpreet Gony in an over which yielded 17 as Bangalore raced past 50 and were in command. However, spin was brought in through Piyush Chawla and the scoring dropped.
Gayle was bowled by Gony as he tried to pull a short-pitched delivery. Pujara and Kohli did not last long thereafter, either. Shortly after completing a half-century, Pujara mistimed a hit off Gony and the inside-edge found his stumps. Kohli fell to Parvinder Awana, who had bowled a tidy three overs up till then and Bangalore were four down at 144. However, AB de Villiers and Moises Henriques launched a late assault to set up the big total. As it turned out, 191 was not enough.
Manoj Narayan is a subeditor at Wisden India.
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