Sharjah: Chris Gayle's presence in the middle had the team brimming with confidence and the 'Universe Boss' with a cracking half-century proved his worth during Kings XI Punjab's win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, said batsman Nicholas Pooran.
Gayle, who was playing his first competitive match since January, overcame a sluggish start against Royal Challengers Bangalore to smash five sixes and a boundary in his 53-run knock, helping KXIP snap a five-match losing streak.
"He started slowly, which is acceptable because he has played cricket in a long while. He has shown once more why he is the greatest T20 batsman. It's wonderful to see him get runs," Pooran told teammate Mayank Agarwal during a post-match show for IPLT20.com.
The West Indies wicketkeeper-batsman added that when the 41-year-old Jamaican is out in the middle, there's a different mood in the camp.
"To me, he is the greatest T20 player. When Chris is batting, you always feel you have a chance of winning the game. Once he is there, it's a different mood in the camp. We, as a batsman, would want someone like him in the middle," Pooran said.
In their first match of the tournament against Delhi Capitals, KXIP had failed to score the required single run of the last three balls and the game headed to a Super Over where they lost the game.
KL Rahul and his men found themselves in a familiar position on Thursday, when they needed just seven off the final two overs with nine wickets in hand but somehow managed to take the game to the last ball.
With big-hitter Gayle departing off the penultimate ball, Pooran walked in to hit the winning six.
"The last over started, it was like deja vu. Last three balls, one run it was like the Delhi game all over again but just the difference is that I was in the dugout," Pooran said.
"A million things were running in my mind, I was not clear, to be honest, what I was gonna (sic) do. I never wanted to be in that position. After sitting out for so long, I have to bat the last ball and 11 fielders look like 20 fielders."
"Two points is the most important thing for us," Pooran added.
Opening the innings with skipper Rahul (61), Agarwal was unlucky to miss out on a well deserved fifty. The 29-year-old scored 45 off 25 balls, providing a flying start to his side.
"It was nice, I thought it was very important that we get off to a good start because the wicket was a little slow and the new ball was important," Agarwal said.
If we got runs with the new ball, it would make it a lot easier. So, that was the thought behind it and I thought if I get few of the middle then I will get keep going," he added.
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Bharat, who has had a good IPL with the bat, smashed 78 not out off 52 balls as he kept calm under pressure and lofted Avesh for a straight six with five needed off the last delivery to chase down DC's target of 165.
Bharat smashed an unbeaten 78 off 52 balls while Glenn Maxwell blazed away to 51 in 33 deliveries as RCB chased down a target of 165 with the former's heroics.
Harshal stressed that Kohli, who has decided to step down as India T20 captain after the upcoming World Cup and RCB skipper post the ongoing IPL, remains a "leader".