Kings XI Punjab cricketer K. L. Rahul plays a shot during 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on March 30, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Mohali: K.L. Rahul anchored the innings to perfection as Kings XI Punjab returned to winning ways with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in an IPL encounter on Saturday.

The talented Rahul was unbeaten on 71 off 57 balls with KXIP reaching the 177-run target in a comfortable 18.4 overs. This was KXIP’s second win in three games while the Indians lost their second game.

The India international hit six fours and a six but what stood out was the manner in which he paced his innings.

He played second fiddle to perfection until Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal were at the crease but upped the ante when it was required.

The 15th over bowled by Hardik Pandya swung the match decisively in KXIP’s favour with 19 runs coming off it.

Once the pressure was off, Rahul hit the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah for successive fours to literally close the match.

Gayle (40 off 24 balls) batted in a manner only he can as he cleared his front leg and hit those towering sixes before Pandya sent him back to the dugout after an opening stand of 53.

Gayle failed to get required elevation off a Krunal delivery and Hardik caught him in the deep. Rahul was barely into double figures when Gayle got out.

The next partnership was equally interesting as Agarwal (43 off 21) was in great nick during the 64 runs that he added with Rahul in only 6.1 overs.

The Pandya brothers had a dismal day with the ball as Krunal gave away 43 runs in his four overs and Hardik 39 runs in three overs.

While he was a disappointment with the ball, Hardik once again provided the final flourish after yet another middle-order collapse as Mumbai Indians managed 176-7 after being put into bat.

Quinton de Kock with a 39-ball-60 created a platform which the middle-order unfortunately didn’t make full use of before Hardik smashed 31 off 19 balls to enable MI get past 175-run mark.

While De Kock hit six boundaries and two sixes in his innings, Pandya hit three boundaries and a six off Mohammed Shami.

Skipper Rohit Sharma also looked good during his brief stay at the crease, scoring 32 off 18 balls with five fours. He added 51 for the opening stand with De Kock.

For the home team, it was the less-known Ashwin — Murugan — who emerged as the most successful bowler with figures of 2-25 from his four overs.

Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin didn’t get any wickets but gave away only 26 runs in his four overs.