A rollercoaster ride of a season for Kings XI Punjab came to an end as the Sher-e-Punjab fell behind after an excellent start, stopping just short of reaching the Playoffs. They faced some stiff opposition, with teams pulling their weight and some players managing to get the better of the Kings. Here are a few of these players who dared to challenge the Lions and lived to tell the tale.
Lungi Ngidi’s 4/10: Match 56 - CSK vs KXIP
Kings XI Punjab needed a big win in their last match against Chennai Super Kings in order to qualify for the Playoffs. However, on a seaming Pune pitch, they ran into the pace and swing of Lungi Ngidi.
The South African made full use of the conditions to first dismiss the dangerous Chris Gayle, who brushed one behind to the keeper, and then beat the in-form Lokesh Rahul all ends up, as he shouldered arms to a peach that cut back in just enough to take the top of off stump.
But Ngidi wasn’t done yet. He came back in his second spell to pick up the wickets of Ravichandran Ashwin and Andrew Tye, both falling for a duck. Eventually, his spell made the difference as the Kings lost a tight game and missed on the Playoffs spot.
Sunil Narine’s 75 (36) and 1/44: Match 44 - KXIP vs KKR
After having comprehensively beaten Kolkata Knight Riders in their home ground of Eden Gardens, the Kings were high on confidence when they took them on at Indore. The pitch was a belter and it was predicted to be a high scoring match. But no one could have predicted the rampage of West Indian all-rounder Sunil Narine.
Opening the batting, Narine took the bowlers on in the Powerplay over and stroked his way to a 36-ball 75, his highest score in the VIVO Indian Premier League. He scored 9 fours and 4 sixes before being dismissed by a short ball from Andrew Tye. The damage, however, had been done and the KKR score of 245 proved too much for KXIP.
Before ending the game, Narine also picked up the prized scalp of Lokesh Rahul to cap off a dream game.
Jasprit Bumrah’s 3/15: Match 50: MI vs KXIP
In a game they needed to win, things were looking bleak for Mumbai Indians with Lokesh Rahul and Aaron Finch going all guns blazing while chasing a total of 186. They needed a hero, and they found one in right-arm pacer Jasprit Bumrah.
After a massive 111-run partnership between Finch and Rahul threatened to take the game out of MI’s hands, Bumrah struck at the right time to send both the batsmen back to the pavilion and then dismiss Marcus Stoinis soon after. His efforts ensured that KXIP ended up a mere 3 runs behind the target when the 20 overs had been bowled. He gave away just 15 runs in a high scoring game which made his spell all the more special.
Jos Buttler’s 82 (58): Match 40 - RR vs KXIP
Coming back strongly from a big loss in the previous game is not something most teams can accomplish, but it is exactly what Rajasthan Royals managed in their second match against KXIP. They were beaten by a 6-wicket margin in the game at Indore and immediately came back two days later to post a 15-run victory at their home ground in Jaipur.
The man responsible for their turn around was wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, who single-handedly ensured that his team made the Playoffs after a slow start. In the game against Kings he was especially effective, dispatching 9 fours and a six in an innings of 82. His effort overshadowed Rahul’s 95 run innings in the same match since he managed to win his team the game.
He was also lightning quick behind the stumps, stumping Chris Gayle off the second ball he faced.
Rashid Khan’s 3/19: Match 25 - SRH vs KXIP
The current best T20 bowler Rashid Khan had an on and off season in the recent edition of the VIVO Indian Premier League. But in certain games, such as Sunrisers Hyderabad’s second game against Kings XI Punjab, he showed just why he deserves the tag.
After ending their innings with just 132 runs on the board, the Sunrisers needed a bit of magic to claim victory in front of their home crowd and that was provided by guile of Rashid Khan.
He first beat the bat of Lokesh Rahul and rattled the timber before trapping Karun Nair leg-before with the perfect googly and then getting Ravichandran Ashwin to balloon one to extra cover. Rashid’s spell coupled with some good contributions all around with the ball, got Sunrisers a hard-fought win and set them on the road to becoming the best defending team in Season 11 of the IPL.