Photo: SportzPics

It was a rare game in the 2020 Dream11 Indian Premier League when the cherry triumphed over the willow, as a disciplined bowling performance from Kings XI Punjab helped them clinch a low scoring thriller against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Defending a meagre 127, an efficient showing from the likes of Ravi Bishnoi and Chirs Jordan helped KXIP pick up their fourth consecutive win at the Dubai International Stadium. 

Batting first for a chance, Kings XI started cautiously, scoring at a run a ball after four overs. Captain Punjab KL Rahul though turned the tide in the next over, signalling his intent with a big six on the leg side. At the other end, KXIP opted to go with Mandeep Singh with the regular opener Mayank Agarwal injured, and the 28-year-old looked positive with a four in that same over.

Mandeep however couldn’t get a big score on the day, as he skied one off Sandeep Sharma’s bowling to be dismissed in the fifth over. New man Chris Gayle though made sure his franchise optimised the powerplay, getting two fours in the next over to bump up the score to 47/1. 

The Universe Boss then welcomed Rashid Khan into the attack with a big six over long on, profiting off the one loose ball from leg spinner. The left-handed batsman however couldn’t connect with any more big shots, ultimately hitting one to long-off in the 10th over. 

Things got worse for the batting side as their star opener Rahul too was sent packing by Rashid Khan shortly after, deceiving him with a wrong one. With two new players in Nicholas Pooran and Glenn Maxwell, KXIP’s scoring rate suffered as the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers got them back into the contest. 

With no boundaries coming in the six overs since that Chris Gayle maximum, Maxwell was tempted into playing a big shot when Sandeep Sharma bowled one slower through the air, but the Australian only found the fielder in the deep, augmenting KXIP’s problems. New man Deepak Hooda too fell without scoring, stumped of Rashid Khan’s bowling. The Afghani spinner finished with figures of 2/14, as KXIP’s scoring rate fell below six for the first time since the powerplay. 

Jason Holder struck again in his final over, this time with a bouncer that proved too good for Chris Jordan. New man Murugan Ashwin too couldn’t for long, and had to walk back after a direct hit from Vijay Shankar saw his short of his crease.  

Pooran finally broke the boundary curse in the penultimate over as he found the gap near square leg. The 25-year-old managed another four in the final over, but T Natarajan managed to keep things tight to ensure his side were only chasing a sub par 127 runs to win. 

Turning Point

That catch from J Suchith proved to be the turning point for KXIP as they managed to break a set partnership and get a way back into the game. 

In reply, SRH started strong as David Warner got a six over covers in the very first over. The Australian opener got a second six within a matter of balls, putting his side firmly in control of the chase right from the beginning. Warner continued to find the gaps, as he got two fours off Mohammed Shami’s penultimate over to push the team score to 44 without loss after five. 

Warner’s partner Jonny Bairstow got a couple of boundaries of his own in the final powerplay over. The breakthrough however finally came when the field restrictions were lifted, as the youngster Ravi Bishnoi got Warner caught behind. Sunrisers lost their second opener Bairstow too in the next over, bowled round the legs. 

New man Abdul Samad also fell cheaply, courtesy of a sharp catch by Chris Jordan at mid-off, as KXIP sensed a route back in this game. The flurry of wickets curtailed SRH’s scoring rate significantly, as the three subsequent overs saw no boundaries being hit, forcing the asking rate above six for the first time in the evening. 

The 14th over however saw the momentum turn back in favour of the chasing team, as Vijay Shankar got two fours down the ground to ease the nerves. Alongside Manish Pandey, the all-rounder managed to stabilize his side’s innings and ensured they didn’t lose any more quick wickets. 

Shankar got another cheeky four in the next over, getting the equation back to a run a ball. Kings XI desperately needed a wicket, and Jordan answered their prayers with a fullish delivery that forced Manish Pandey into a rash shot, only to be caught in the deep spectacularly by substitute fielder Jagadeesha Suchith. 

Despite the wicket, Shankar looked solid in the middle, finishing the over with a boundary to leave SRH needing 20 of the last three. The 29-year-old though couldn’t finish the game off, as an off-cutter from Arshdeep picked an outside edge and fell kindly into KL Rahul’s gloves. 

The pressure was on Jordan to deliver an economical penultimate over, and the Englishman performed again by picking the wicket of the dangerous Jason Holder, and followed that up by dismissing Rashid Khan. The two wickets once again shifted the game KXIP’s way, as the chasing side needed 14 of the last over with three wickets in hand. 

With the game running away, Sandeep Sharma went for a big heave down the leg side, but miscued it straight to Murugan. Sunrisers’ last recognised batsman Priyam Garg also perished going for a big shot, caught expertly by Jordan in the deep. A couple of balls later, a direct hit by Ravi Bishnoi ended the SRH chase, as Kings XI triumphed by 12 runs. 

KXIP play their next game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday, October 26.