Bangalore, May 14: Skipper Adam Gilchrist finally led from the front with a dazzling unbeaten 85 to guide Kings XI Punjab to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in a Indian Premier League match here today.
Chasing a stiff target of 175, Gilchrist blazed his way to a 54-ball-85 which had 10 fours and three huge sixes as his team romped home with 11 balls to spare.
Kings XI with 12 points from 14 matches now are in sixth position - courtesy better net run-rate than defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders who are also on 12 points. The win also helped Gautam Gambhir's men stay in contention as an RCB victory would have decisively shut the doors.
The defeat for RCB also made the situation tricky for Virat Kohli and co, who now have 16 points from 15 games and will need to win their final game at any cost. The foundation of this win was laid by two veterans Gilchrist and 'T20 freelancer' Azhar Mahmood, who added 118 runs for the second wicket. Mahmood scored 61 off 41 balls with eight fours and a six.
The duo, whose cumulative age is 79 years, proved that there is no substitute of experience as they both brought in their oodles of experience in international cricket to pave the way for an easy win. This was after Zaheer Khan, who made a comeback in competitive cricket after nearly five months cleaned up Shaun Marsh in his very second over.
It was Mahmood, who first gave the charge hitting Moises Henriques for three successive boundaries in the last over of the Powerplay (6th). Taking a cue from Mahmood's posituve approach, Gilchrist, who had only one score of 40 plus in the tournament also got into the groove as he hit some cracking strokes. The Aussie dasher brought up his half century with a straight six off Zaheer.
The stand-out hit will however be the the inside out six over extra cover off Muttiah Muralitharan. He followed it up with another six - a slog sweep over deep square leg. It was Rajagopal Sathish, who finished the proceedings with a bowler's back-drive.