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IPL 2019 – Kings XI top-order aces chase after M Ashwin’s 2 for 25


MARCH 30, 2019

Brief Scorecard: Kings XI Punjab 177 for 2 (Rahul 71*, Mayank 43, Gayle 40) beat Mumbai Indians 176 for 7 (de Kock 60, M Ashwin 2-25) by eight wickets

MOHALI – Kings XI Punjab rode on the back of M Ashwin’s legbreaks and googlies, and then delivered a combined performance from their batsmen to win their fourth-straight game in Mohali. In what was a bold move to bowl first on a day game, the hosts recovered from a difficult position to restrict Mumbai Indians to 176. After that they paced their innings to near perfection.

KL Rahul overcame a difficult period of batting to collect his maiden fifty of the season, while Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal chipped in with crucial forties. No. 4 David Miller was unbeaten on 15.

Earlier in the day, Mumbai rode on Quinton de Kock’s attractive 60 to post 91 in their first ten overs. But their batsmen failed to capitalise on the base provided by the Mumbai top order, and finished with an under-par score.

The win was Kings XI’s second in three games, while Mumbai suffered their second loss in three matches.

Ash-twins apply the brake

M Ashwin – in for the injured Varun Chakravarthy – and R Ashwin went for a combined economy of only 6.38. Murugan’s wrong’uns dismissed Suryakumar Yadav (11) and Yuvraj Singh (18). Both times, Mumbai were pegged right when they were changing gears.

Earlier, at 62 for 1 after six overs, Mumbai were in a solid position to consolidate on de Kock and Rohit Sharma’s start, but the quick wickets of Rohit and Suryakumar forced Mumbai to check their scoring against spin.

The tight work done by the Ashwins though was slightly undone by their pacers , who went for over 10 per over. They bore the brunt in the Powerplay, and then failed to stop the boundaries in the middle and back end too. Mohammad Shami, in particular, was targeted by de Kock.

De Kock delights despite DRS clumsiness

De Kock found himself in the middle of two poor DRS calls (or non-calls). The first was in the sixth over, when he did not ask captain Rohit to go for a DRS review, moments after reaching his 1000th IPL run.

Hardus Viljoen’s inswinger had struck Rohit on middle-and-leg stump. The umpire raised his finger. Rohit then asked de Kock whether he should review, but chose to walk after not getting the nod. Replays showed that the in-form Rohit would’ve been not-out.

De Kock then looked to make amends for Rohit’s dismissal. In the tenth over, he struck the game’s first six, hoicking a short ball and followed it up with another six off Shami in the 13th.

On 60, de Kock was caught lbw trying to shuffle across the stumps. However, he felt that he could be not out, and this time, asked for the DRS. The TV replay showed that the ball was crashing into off stump, and Mumbai lost their only review. De Kock, though, had done enough to ensure Mumbai’s run-rate was nearly 10 with seven overs to go.

The batsmen who followed, however, failed to capitalise on that. Barring Hardik Pandya – whose 19-ball 31 lifted Mumbai to 176 – the other allrounders fared poorly. Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya fell for less than 10 and Mumbai were a dozen runs short.

Gayle goes boom-boom, Rahul not so much

Gayle began Kings XI’s chase slowly. The first two overs saw just one boundary. Rahul, too, tentatively saw off the opening overs.

However, by the time the third over started, Gayle had blocked enough. He struck consecutive sixes – one off a short ball that Gayle now expects in the Powerplay – and off a pitched-up cutter that easily cleared long-off. Rahul then spoilt Jasprit Bumrah’s first over with a cut. After six overs, Kings XI made only 38 but importantly lost no wickets.

The duo then extracted 14 runs off the seventh. It looked like Gayle’s carnage would continue, but on 40, he skied an attempted loft off Krunal to long on. At that stage, Rahul had a strike-rate of 60 after 20 deliveries.

Childhood friends consolidate for Kings XI

With Rahul not middling the ball, his Karnataka team-mate Mayank Agarwal took on the bowlers. He made 43 in 21 deliveries as they added 60 for the second wicket.

Agarwal used his feet to the spinners, hitting them for whipped sixes over long-off. He single-handedly ensured that the required run-rate did not breach 10. Agarwal, however, perished trying to play another shot over Krunal’s head, instead striking the ball straight to the bowler.

Rahul had struck just a single boundary in his first 37 balls, then picked up the baton after Agarwal fell. With Kings XI needing 56 off the final six, he began the 14th with a ramped six over the keeper. In David Miller’s company, Rahul finally went aggressive.

Rahul wins the hare-and-tortoise race

It was Rahul’s 40th delivery when he finally went past a strike-rate of 100. A cover drive took Rahul into the forties as his confidence began to grow. When the teams took a time-out with 30 deliveries to go, Kings XI needed only 37.

Rahul – now the lynchpin in this chase – then pulled Malinga over fine leg to reach his first half-century of the season. That came in the 16th over, and the required run-rate had dropped to nearly six.

When Bumrah turned up to bowl the 17th, Rahul delivered a knockout punch with consecutive boundaries to bring the equation down to 15 in 20 balls. Soon after, Rahul and Miller brought up their fifty-run stand in 30 deliveries. Next over, Rahul hit the winning runs.