Kings XI Punjab produced an all-round performance beating Gujarat Lions by 26 runs in a one-sided Indian Premier League encounter at Rajkot on Sunday. Courtesy Hashim Amla's 65 and Axar Patel 34, Kings XI Punjab notched up 188 for seven after being invited to bat. The much-criticised bowling attack then joined the party restricting Lions to 162 for seven as they won a match after losing four consecutive games on the trot.
Kings XI Punjab now have six points from seven games while Lions remain at the bottom with four points. The dangerous Brendon McCullum missed a in-dipping full-toss from Sandeep Sharma to be adjudged plumb in-front.
Skipper Suresh Raina (32) and Aaron Finch (13) added 40 runs at a brisk pace with the India international hitting a flurry of boundaries. But it was Mohit Sharma, who bowled one wide and full outside the off-stump and Finch's uppish drive was taken by Marcus Stoinis.
But what changed the game completely was skipper Glenn Maxwell's brilliant catch at the deep mid-wicket boundary. Raina played the customary swat over cow corner but Maxwell kept his balance as he timed his jump to perfection.
The pitch showed signs of being two-paced and KC Cariappa got Ravindra Jadeja to play early and dived in-front to grab the return catch. The big-hitting Dwayne Smith (4) also got out cheaply, becoming Axar's second victim of the match.
Cariappa then trapped Akshdeep Nath (0) in-front of the wicket to make matters worse as Karthik waged a lone battle. Cariappa and Axar between them bowled eight overs giving away only 60 runs and most importantly got four wickets.
Earlier, Amla's sublime touch was complemented by an Axar cameo that powered Kings XI Punjab to a competitive 188 for seven against Gujarat Lions. Amla hit 65 off 40 balls with nine boundaries and two sixes to set the platform while Axar's 34 off 17 balls enabled the Kings XI Punjab to reach a fighting total after 20 overs.
Shaun Marsh (30 off 24 balls) and Maxwell (31 off 18 balls) also made useful contributions. Amla started from where he had left against Mumbai Indians the other day.
When Suresh Raina introduced rookie leg-spinner Shivam Agarwal, he was hit for two boundaries -- a cover drive and a back cut. The Proteas legend launched a furious assault on Andrew Tye, hitting him for two boundaries and a six over long-on.
An inside out six over extra cover off Ravindra Jadeja was followed by a flick as he went into the 40's. Anything outside the off-stump was driven and the ones on the legs were whipped en route his third 50-plus knock in the tournament.
He put on 70 runs for the second wicket with Marsh while another 47 runs were added with skipper Maxwell. Amla was looking good for another hundred before leg-spinner Agarwal held on to a low return catch.
Maxwell, who had hit three sixes and looked set for a few more, was out due to lack of discretion while trying a reverse sweep off Jadeja, which went all awry. Axar's cameo, which included two sixes off Dwayne Smith, took Kings closer to the 190-run mark. For Lions, Tye (2/35) and Jadeja (1/32) had the best figures. Basil Thampi (0/44) was punished for erring in length.