Kings XI Punjab may not have made it to the playoffs in this VIVO Indian Premier League season, but their fighting spirit provided plenty of memories to take away. We relive some of them here.
Well set and batting on 21, laced with four 4s, Virat Kohli was about to face the fifth ball from young Mujeeb Ur Rahman's over. The young Afghani came in wide at the crease and flung the ball towards the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, the delivery landing well outside off stump. Kohli's front foot was nowhere close to the pitch as he committed to a punching cover drive. But the gaping gap between the bat and pad allowed the viciously turning ball to make contact with the top of the middle stump. The peach of a delivery probably shocked Kohli as much as did all the observers on the day.
Chris Gayle is a celebration himself. So it's little wonder he marked his milestone innings this season by cradling his bat and swaying it like he would a baby. He did it in his first match for KXIP, when he smacked 50 off just 22 balls against Chennai Super Kings at Mohali announcing his arrival in the team. He repeated the celebration in subsequent innings as well, making it one of the moments from the season that will remained etched in memory.
Extending an arm
Bowling to Gayle at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata Knight Riders' Andre Russell stumbled on the follow through and fell on the pitch wincing in pain. The big West Indian was injured and lay there for a few moments before Lokesh Rahul walked up from the non-striker's end and extended his arm to help Russell up. KKR was on the receiving end that night, and although the assault on the pitch continued, that moment reminded that the Kings have a heart too.
When wicketkeeper Rahul left the field momentarily during the away match against Sunrisers Hyderabad leaving his gloves behind, Gayle made an opportunistic move to provide some entertainment. He donned the keeper's gloves and urged the match to be resumed emantaing his typical humour. He then squatted behind the wicket and enacted a few stumping drills moments before Rahul came jogging back wearing a big smile to see the big man keeping the spirits up.
Later in the same aforementioned match against SRH, Manoj Tiwary was brought in to bowl in the eighth over. And boy did he deliver a surprise. He didn't quite take wickets but his bowling action created quite a stir. Coming over the wicket, he slung the ball from down low with his arm parallel to the ground leaving batsman Shakib Al Hasan plenty to think about. He reverted to a traditional action in the same over but it was nice to see something fresh.
Ben Stokes can be very dangerous when set. So, when the Rajasthan Royals batsman sent a Mujeeb Ur Rahman delivery towards long-off for a projected six, it was critical that he needed to be stopped and soon. To contain that, Mayank Agarwal grabbed hold of the ball just a foot from the boundary line but that threw him off balance, the momentum about to push him over the line. Quick thinking prevailed as moments before he fell over, he threw the ball towards Tiwary, who had run in from long on, to complete the catch. It has been considered as one of the top catches of the season by the league.
Football in cricket
Hardik Pandya and Rahul batted for the jersey swap tradition, popular in football, to be rung in cricket as well. After a hard-fought match in a critical game, the two met later on the field and exchanged their jerseys impromptu and establishing the sportsmanship spirit. It weighed even more considering that Rahul was on the losing side and that he had missed his maiden IPL century by just six runs.
With the stakes high and steep, KXIP went into the final match of the league against CSK with a tall order. Punjab needed to win the match by at least 53 runs and it needed its batsman to fire. So when Gayle brushed his glove to a Lungi Ngidi delivery that went down the leg side and into MS Dhoni's safe hands, he walked shortly after the umpire shook his head to negate the appeal keeping the spirit of the game flying high.