Cricket is a team game but very often there are some performances that make a significant mark. There were plenty of noteworthy contributions all round this Indian Premier League season within the Kings XI Punjab camp but these six stood out from the rest.
Kings XI started the season with bang thanks to Lokesh Rahul, who kept more or less the same momentum through the league. He opened his campaign with the fastest 50 ever in the IPL, taking just 14 balls to reach the milestone making little work of the Delhi Daredevils bowlers in the Kings' season-opener at Mohali. Chasing 168 for the win, KXIP were 64/2 when Rahul departed at the 4.5-over mark. The win set the tone for the team for the first half of the campaign and for Rahul to eventually become the highest run-getter for KXIP in a single season with 659.
Universe Boss weighs a ton
Chris Gayle scored the first century of IPL 2018 against Sunrisers Hyderabad’s disciplined bowling outfit at Mohali in an uncharacteristic measured knock that saw the Jamaican pace his innings with singles. Gayle eventually whacked 11 sixes, the joint-highest number of sixes in an innings this season, and a four on his way to 104* off 63 balls as he stood till the end of the innings. Punjab scored 193/3 and went on to win by 15 runs.
Ankit Rajpoot's 5/14 against Sunrisers Hyderabad has emerged as the best bowling figures of the season in the league stages. It was only the second time a KXIP bowler had bagged a fifer and the first by any bowler this season. His haul included the dangerous Kane Williamson, who went for his first IPL duck, and Manish Pandey, who top scored in the match, and Shikhar Dhawan. Rajpoot ended up with five of the total six SRH wickets that fell on the day in Hyderabad. A memorable performance despite the loss.
Mujeeb at his best
Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who became the youngest player to debut in the IPL, picked up 3 wickets against Rajasthan Royals at Indore as he dismissed Ben Stokes, RR top scorer Jos Butler and Jofra Archer in a span of four balls across his two overs. Cruising at 100/3 at 12.4 overs, Mujeeb’s strikes reduced the Royals 100/6 at the start of the 15th over and could only eventually manage 152/9. This set up a comfortable chase for the Punjab batsmen as they went on to win the match by 6 wickets. Mujeeb’s career best spell of 3 for 27 also got him the MOTM award – becoming the youngest ever to win the accolade.
Tye’s third fourth
On a day when the KXIP pacers were sent to the stands, Andrew Tye stood out ending with figures of 4 for 16 in his four overs – his best of the season - at an economy rate of 4 in a crunch match against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. In contrast, the three other KXIP pacers collectively conceded a mammoth 123 overs in their 10 overs. Incidentally, the Aussie became Punjab’s leading wicket taker in a single season when he dismissed Hardik Pandya in the penultimate over of the innings. Leading the race for Purple Cap this season, Andrew Tye’s third 4-wicket haul was the most by any player in an IPL season.
KL Rahul consistently delivered for Kings XI Punjab this season with his best knock coming when his team needed him the most. In what could be called a stand-out performance, Rahul led the chase against Mumbai Indians scoring 94 of just 60 balls. It was a crunch match as it would have strengthened KXIP’s chances of reaching the playoffs. Rahul received little support from the other end after Aaron Finch’s dismissal and nearly waged a lone battle before being dismissed in the penultimate over of the match. It was an unfortunate result for KXIP as Rahul had scored a record 482 runs this season while chasing alone.