Photo: SportzPics

Kings XI Punjab’s middle-order stood tall at the Dubai International Stadium, as the likes of Nicholas Pooran and Glenn Maxwell helped their team over the line in their Northern derby clash against Delhi Capitals. The win sees KXIP up two places in the points table for the 2020 Dream11 Indian Premier League; and find themselves on eight points- level with Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad. 

The experiment of opening the bowling with Glenn Maxwell didn’t work for KXIP this time, as the in-form Shikhar Dhawan smashed the off-spinner for a four and a six. Delhi Capitals’ other opener Prithvi Shaw though couldn’t find his rhythm once again, and was dismissed in the fourth over by a returning Jimmy Neesham- caught at extra cover. 

Shaw was replaced by captain Shreyas Iyer, who got off the mark with a big six over covers. Despite the wicket, there was no stopping Dhawan, who latched onto Mohammed Shami’s second over to get two boundaries off it, pushing his side’s score to 53/1 after the end of the powerplay. 

The southpaw kept piling the runs even after the fielding restrictions were lifted, getting to his fourth consecutive fifty in the ninth over with a sweep shot against Murugan Ashwin. The leg spinner however came back strongly as he managed to get the better of Iyer in that same over- out caught behind. 

Dhawan and new man Rishabh Pant shrewdly negotiated the KXIP spinners in the next few overs, regularly rotating the strike to get the team score past 100 by the 13th. Dhawan played a few aggressive shots to keep his team’s run rate up, but Pant couldn’t do the same from the other end, as his first lofted shot found the fielder at long on. 

Delhi’s opening batsman however remained solid, getting a boundary apiece of leggies Murugan and Bishnoi’s bowling to bump up his team score to 126/3 with four overs to spare. At the other end, Marcus Stoinis couldn’t get going on the night, as he got a leading edge off a Mohammed Shami low fulltoss, finding the fielder in the circle. 

Despite wickets tumbling around him, Dhawan couldn’t put a foot wrong on the night, as he created history by becoming the first player to score back-to-back hundreds in the IPL, getting to that mark in the 19th over. KXIP’s seamers however were incredibly accurate with their yorkers at the death, with Shami getting Shimron Hetmyer’s wicket of the last ball of the innings to ensure his batsmen were chasing 165 to win on the night. 

Turning Point

Tushar Deshpande’s over in the powerplay turned out to be the turning point in the game, as Chris Gayle got 26 off that over and put his side in pole position for the chase. 

In reply, KL Rahul was given a glorious opportunity to open his account as Delhi pacer Daniel Sams bowled a no ball; and the 28-year-old did not disappointed as he hoisted it for a six down the ground. The Punjab skipper then welcomed Axar Patel into the attack with a four on the off-side, but tried a big shot yet again the very next ball, only to find the fielder at the edge of the circle. 

New man Chris Gayle didn’t take too long to settle, as he took a liking to the pace bowling of Tushar Deshpande. The Universe Boss got three fours and two sixes of that over, amassing 26 runs of the over to push the team score to 50/1 after five. 

To curb the scoring rate, captain Iyer introduced Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack and the move paid instant dividends, as the off-spinner knocked over Gayle with just his second delivery of the match. The same over saw Agarwal and new batsman Nicholas Pooran get into a horrible mix-up, which cost the former his wicket, leaving KXIP three-down for just the second time in IPL 2020.  

Pooran seemed eager to make amends for that run-out, as he clobbered into Desphande’s second over- scoring two fours and a six of it to keep the required rate well under control. The southpaw batsman continued to play his shots, welcoming Stoinis into the attack with a four and a six, getting the team score past a 100 by the 10th over. 

The 25-year-old got another mammoth six on the leg side when Axar Patel was reintroduced into the attack, getting the required rate below six an over for the first time in the evening. Pooran got to his fifty shortly after, with a thick outside edge off Rabada’s bowling that ran away to the fence. The South African however had the last laugh, as he managed to catch the glove of Pooran with the next ball, to end up being caught behind. 

With no scoreboard pressure, new batsman Glenn Maxwell could play his shots freely, and the Australian got himself two quick boundaries without any untoward risks. The 32-year-old got another four in the subsequent over off Rabada’s bowling, but skied it when he tried to play the same shot again, to walk back after scoring 32. 

Despite the wicket, Punjab were in control of the chase, as Deepak Hooda and new man Jimmy Neesham dealt in singles. Hooda got a four over mid-wicket too to soothe the nerves, and get the target down to single figures with two overs to go. There wasn’t to be any last minute hiccups for KXIP this time, as the batsmen casually got singles, before Neesham got a mighty six on the leg side to send his side over the line with an over to spare. 

Kings XI Punjab play their next game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, October 24th.