x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gayle and Gilchrist heroics forces open IPL title race

Bangalore ride on West Indian's power-packed unbeaten century and Punjab captain leads from the front.

Adam Gilchrist was returning from a long abdomen injury layoff.
Adam Gilchrist was returning from a long abdomen injury layoff.

The Kings XI Punjab pushed their way in to contention for the play-offs with a six-wicket victory over the Chennai Super Kings at Dharamshala in the Indian Premier League last night.

In the late night game, table-toppers Delhi Daredevils fought back hard without Virender Sehwag but a Chris Gayle blitzkrieg of an innings was enough to see them fall short by 21 runs. His 63-ball unbeaten knock of 128 took Bangalore to a score of 215 that was too tough a mountain for Delhi to climb.

Virat Kohli supported Gayle with 73 runs as Gayle became the highest scorer in an IPL season.

Earlier Adam Gilchrist, the opening batsman and captain, led from the front with an unbeaten 64 after winning the toss and putting Chennai into bat on a favourable track in overcast conditions.

Punjab bowlers responded well to limit the visitors to just 120 and none of the Chennai batsmen showed spine in their last match of the league stage. MS Dhoni's men will now have to wait for other results to see if they make the play-offs.

"They [the Punjab bowlers] bowled well and in the right areas. We tried to consolidate but whenever we tried to get out of it we lost wickets," said Dhoni later at the post-match conference.

Gilchrist also said the bowlers set up the match for his side to force a potential five-way fight for two play-off places behind the Delhi Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders. "I agree with Dhoni that it was a good track to win the toss but you still need to bowl well and my bowlers bowled in the right areas."

Gilchrist also took four catches behind the stumps. "There were a lot of nicks for me but they were straight forward so it worked out well for us," the captain said. "Obviously everyone is looking at the table but we should try not to look at others. We have to win our last game."

Earlier Praveen Kumar, Azhar Mahmood and Parvinder Awana each took two wickets and Gilchrist eased them over the line with 21 balls remaining.

Praveen and Gilchrist combined as bowler and wicketkeeper to remove the opening pair of Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay with just 20 on the board.

Suresh Raina and Dhoni also failed but Dwayne Bravo clubbed three fours and three sixes on his way to a face-saving 48.

Gilchrist ensured the chase would not be a nervy one with his 64 not out in 46 deliveries at the top of the innings, with his opening partner Mandeep Singh adding 24. Bravo's all-round performance continued as he removed both Nitin Saini and David Hussey but that proved too little and too late.

* Compiled by The National staff with agencies

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