Mohali, Apr 21: Disappointed that his team lost despite putting up an improved performance, Kings XI Punjab spinner Piyush Chawla said explosive batsman Chris Gayle was the decisive difference between the hosts and the visiting Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL match.
After putting up a score of 163 for six, their best score of this IPL, Punjab were well and truly on top when they had the visitors reeling at 25 for three in the sixth over.
However, a belligerent 131-run stand between Gayle (87) and AB de Villiers (52) eventually took the game away from KXIP, and the franchise lost its fourth game of the competition.
"Obviously (Gayle took the game away). But the way our guys bowled to start with, otherwise the way he generally bats - like today, he batted till almost the 18th over. Generally, if he bats till the 18th over, the match does not go on for that long. I think it was a terrific effort by our bowlers," said Chawla.
Chawla, who finished with figures of 4-0-21-1 on the evening, also dismissed suggestions that KXIP missed a trick by not playing Dimitri Mascarenhas.
"Well, no. I don't think so. Azhar (Mahmood) did a really good job, so I really can't say that.
"Obviously. He has got tons of experience of behind him. He has played a lot of T20 cricket all over the world. You just saw, in the very first game, the way he batted for our team and the way he bowled (he was really good)," he said.
Asked how different David Hussey was as captain in the absence of injured regular skipper Adam Gilchrist, Chawla said, "David had just one game; (it's) too early to say anything."
Meanwhile, RCB's Australian all-rounder Andrew McDonald lauded Gayle and de Villiers for their performance.
"They both are fantastic individual players. Chris and AB both have a found a bit of form. The batting unit joined together nicely and we had quite a good result with the ball as well.
"We're starting to get the wheels in motion and starting to put some good performances together. And anytime Chris bats like that, we will be on the winning side. It's fantastic to watch him bat," he said.
McDonald also praised the sporting Mohali pitch. "It's a fantastic ground. This is the first time I have ever played here. The outfield is lightning and the wicket has good pace. There is a bit of bounce in it, a bit of grass, a bit of movement for the new ball bowlers. It's a good cricket wicket," he said.
McDonald hoped that RCB's winning run would continue. RCB will play Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on April 23. They had lost to RR on April 15 by 59 runs.
"They found a bit of form early in the tournament. If we can get a win on the road (that would be great); the road trips are the most difficult. We had four games at the start in Bengaluru and probably didn't capitalize on that.
"If we can pinch a few away wins, that will go a long way in getting those eight or nine wins to making it to the top four. Hopefully, we will roll over Rajasthan and get two from two on the road," he said.