Abu Dhabi: Rajasthan Royals (RR) pulled off a clinical run chase to beat Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by seven wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Friday.
KXIP put up 185/4 due to a blistering 99 off 63 balls by Chris Gayle, before RR themselves got off to a quick start thanks to Ben Stokes' 50 off 26 balls at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. RR romped home in 17.3 overs.
Stokes hit six fours and three sixes as the opening partnership between him and Robin Uthappa raced to 60 within the powerplay.
Sanju Samson (48) then struck up a 51-run stand with Uthappa, but he was denied a half-century when he was run out in the 15th over. Uthappa, meanwhile, fell in the 10th over to Murugan Ashwin.
Steve Smith (31 not out) and Jos Buttler (22 not out) then saw them through to the end with an unbeaten 41-run stand for the fourth wicket.
The loss ended KXIP's five-match winning run.
The result takes RR up to fifth place on the points table with 12 points, and level with KXIP, who remain fourth due to their superior net run rate. RR are also level on points with Kolkata Knight Riders whom they replaced at sixth place.
KXIP take on Chennai Super Kings in their final fixture on Sunday, while Royals clash with with Kolkata Knight Riders in their final game on the same day.
Earlier, Chris Gayle continued his menacing form, smashing a 63-ball 99 to steer KXIP to 185/4.
Gayle and captain K L Rahul (46) took the RR bowlers to the cleaners, stitching 120 runs for the second wicket in 13.4 overs to help KXIP post a challenging total after being put in to bat.
Nicholas Pooran played a late cameo of 22 off just 10 deliveries with the help of three sixes.
Gayle, who had four boundaries and eight sixes in his explosive innings, was out just two balls before the end of the innings and he showed his disappointment of missing out on a hundred by throwing down his bat.
During his knock, Gayle took his tally of sixes to 1,001 in his glittering T20 career.
KXIP lost their first wicket in the opening over itself when Mandeep Singh got dismissed for a first-ball duck with Stokes taking a brilliant diving catch off an equally superb delivery by Jofra Archer.
But Gayle and Rahul maintained a high scoring rate, reaching 53 for 1 at the end of powerplay. The self-styled 'Universe Boss' smacked two fours and six in consecutive deliveries off pacer Kartik Tyagi.
Gayle reached his third fifty in six matches in this IPL in style, hitting a six off Rahul Tewatia in the 11th over as KXIP cruised along to reach the 100-run mark in the 13th over.
Stokes finally got the breakthrough by getting rid of tournament's top run-getter Rahul in the 15th over to put brakes on KXIP innings.
Rahul, who was playing second fiddle to Gayle, could not clear the ropes as Tewatia took the catch near the boundary.