AB de Villiers produced one his trademark swashbuckling knocks that showed his full range of strokes as he clobbered 89 runs off 46 balls. The effort, though, went in vain as Royal Challengers Bangalore slumped to an eight-wicket loss at the hands of Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League encounter at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Monday.

Chasing RCB’s modest target of 149, Kings XI broke little sweat as Hashim Amla (58*) and Glenn Maxwell (43*) took them over the line with 33 balls to spare.

The bold decision to drop Chris Gayle

With AB de Villiers’ availability still not certain, interest in the lead up to the game were centered around Chris Gayle. The Jamaican batsman was just 25 runs from reaching a landmark 10,000 runs mark in Twenty20 cricket.

While the RCB management gave fans a reason to smile with de Villiers’ inclusion, they were quick to launch a surprise also revealing the exclusion of Gayle.

Gayle’s absence meant, the pressure was immense on Shane Watson and de Villiers to score big. Watson, who opened with youngster Vishnu Vinod, struggle to find his feet. While Watson fell in the very first over, Vinod followed suit three overs later with only 18 on board.

To have him the team, would have meant dropping either Watson or pacers Tymal Mills and Billy Stanlake. With their bowling attack otherwise their weaker link, keeping their fast bowlers on the bench would not have been smart move. And with Watson leading the outfit, dropping Gayle was the only option available to the management.

Punjab bowlers produce inspired performance

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With Gayle missing, a huge load was off from the shoulders of Glenn Maxwell and Co. The skipper gave spinner Axar Patel the first over instead of handing it to one his pacers. The left-arm tweaker delivered immediately sending Watson packing. Pacer Sandeep Sharma dismissed Viishu immediately before Varun Aaron took the crucial wicket of the in-form Kedar Jadhav.

Some tactful bowling changes and a perfect execution saw Kings XI slump to 23/3. Putting the pressure squarely on its middle-order and de Villiers.

All the bowlers chipped in with valuable contributions. Axar, Sandeep and Aaron were especially impressive. Axar finished with figures of 1/12 and an economy of just three. Sandeep was at his cunning best, maintaining a stump-to-stump line and getting the ball to seam back in off good length. It went a long way in containing de Villiers, who was cautious not to launch into any initial errors.

Varun Aaron, who ended IPL 9 with an economy of 9.59, was economical too, finishing with figures of 2/21. After sending back Jadhav, Aaron dented Bangalore further by dismissing Mandeep Singh, who was slowly building a stable partnership with de Villiers.

Fit-again AB delivers!

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Along with Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and de Villiers hold a special place in the hearts of RCB fans. Its a relationship built on years of fine performances that have left its mark on the IPL and shaped it to what it is right now.

With the announcement of his injury, many were left disheartened. A possibility of him playing was all that was needed to pique interest.

Chants of ABD! ABD! ran through the Holkar Stadium, quite a distance from the M Chinnaswamy, where it originated. The fact, that it was Kings XI’s home game did not matter. All one cared for was ABD. He did not disappoint as he stroked a fine 89-run know off just 46 deliveries. His effort included three boundaries and nine sixes, two which landed on top of the roof.

The 32-year-old, though, took a while to settle in. A few sixes here and there kept the antipation high, but de Villiers remained stoic as wickets kept falling at the other end. It was only in the 17th over that normal service resumed as he pulled Marcus Stoinis over the deep mid-wicket fence for two sixes. Mohit Sharma and T Natarajan in particular, felt the full wrath of his blade.

RCB amassed 77 runs from the last five overs, with de Villiers get his last 58 runs from just 18 deliveries.

Led by Amla, Kings XI make light work of target

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If the end of the RCB innings was a stormy affair with plenty of big hits and quick runs, Kings XI’s chase was calm as still water.

Chasing a target of just 149, all that Kings XI required was a calm head leading the way. There is no better player to provide that trait that South Africa’s Hashim Amla (43*). Opening the innings, Amla scored a fine half-century. His 62-run partnership with partner Man Vohra (34) at top of the innings laid the foundation for the comfortable victory.

He was later supported by skipper Maxwell (37*). The took the team home with an unbeaten 72-run partnership to hand their side their second successive victory.

Brief scores

  • Royal Challengers Bangalore 148/4 (AB de Villiers 89; Axar Patel 1/12, Varun Aaron 2/21) lost to Kings XI Punjab 150/2 (Hashim Amla 58*, Glenn Maxwell 43) by 8 wickets.