11 Oct 2020

Kings’ fort breached by the Knights in a game of inches!

By cricinsane

“I have no answers”. Such was the level of distraught and agony in the Kings’ camp when they bottled a nearly easy game in an unappealing manner. Skipper KL Rahul once again emerged as the leading run scorer for the Kings and managed to secure the Orange Cap. But that wasn’t enough to heal the wound of the lions as they proved once again how badly things can turn in an unplanned game. On the other hand, the talisman of KKR, Dinesh Karthik rose above all criticism to pull off some magnificent hitting and emerged as the Man of the Match. He batted brilliantly till the end and rotated his best bowlers at crunching situations to seal the victory for his side and earned the most valuable 2 points. Woes continued for KXIP as they struggled to find a proper team composition while KKR got all their players back to form in the most crucial period of the tournament. With this, the race for the 3rd, 4th and 5th position has been widely opened. 

KKR won the toss and captain Karthik opted to bat first. Both teams had a change in their pace bowling department wherein Prasidh Krishna replaced Mavi and Chris Jordan replaced Cottrell. The revamped top order duo took the strike and it was not long before Shami gave the first breakthrough for Punjab. Rana didn’t trouble the scorers which made Morgan walk in during the 4th over. Slowly, both Gill and Morgan steadied the ship as they rotated the strike well and hit the odd ball to the boundary. During the halfway mark KKR reached 60/2 with both Morgan and Gill sitting comfortably in 23 and 27. When Morgan tried shifting gears, he perished to the young Bishnoi’s wrong’un that stuck on to the surface and skidded slowly. Karthik came to the middle and it was indeed a game that tested his mettle. He looked positive from the first ball he faced and Gill was striking cleanly at the other end which gave DK a bit of time to settle. By the 13th over, Karthik was able to read the double-faced pitch clearly and what followed that was carnage. Mujeeb, Bishnoi, Arshdeep, Jordan and Shami; all of them were hit around the park and DK raised his maiden half century of the IPL 2020. What looked like a score of 150 odd went on to become 164 with DK’s blistering knock of 58 off 29 balls. This proved that KKR had regained their balance and had a lot of depth to cover the early damage as well.

Rahul and Agarwal began one of the most important chases of their life time to keep Punjab alive and kicking in the tournament. Rahul was handed an early life line when Russell dropped one off Prasidh’s bowling and the skipper captivated on that to make the run chase an interesting event. Both the Karnataka batsmen piled runs in tandem as they were striking at the similar rate and runs kept coming for Punjab without any hindrance. By the end of 14th over Punjab scored 113/0 and the RRR was just 8.66. Agarwal played a pickup shot to hit one straight into the throat of deep mid wicket which got power hitting Pooran in. Pooran hit a couple of huge blows but his fellow West Indian mate curtailed his short show of fireworks when Punjab was still comfortably needing 22 off 18 balls. Everybody hoped that it was a cakewalk for Punjab from there as they could have even gone out to finish the game quickly to improve their NRR. But DK had other critical plans. He employed Narine to bowl the crucial 18th over where he gave just two runs and picked Pooran’s wicket as well. The RRR climbed from 7 to 10 within 4 balls. Following up, Prasidh didn’t let down the efforts of Narine as he claimed the priced scalp of Rahul and the paltry Prabhsimran was also made to walk back to the dugout. Punjab needed 14 off the last 6 balls and two new batsmen were out to face Narine in the final battle. When Punjab needed 7 from the last ball, Maxwell indeed played his best shot of the tournament thus far, to clobber a strike over the covers but the ball fell just inches before the advertisement ropes. Umpire Chris Gaffaney didn’t hesitate a bit as he immediately signalled that as a boundary which saw KXIP fall short by 2 runs. 

If there could be any team that could throw away an easy game on their silver plate, it should definitely be Punjab. The number of games they failed to close away after reaching so far really shows their lack of experience and calculative decisions. Skipper looked extremely doubtful about the team composition changing the dynamics of the team every match and the Indian contingent bearing Rahul, Mayank and Bishnoi looked totally out of shape for them. Here are some takeaways from the game.

  1. Promoting Prabhsimran : When KXIP needed 21 off 10 balls, it was really a bold yet back fired decision to send Prabhsimran Singh ahead of Glenn Maxwell to finish the chase for them. The inexperience of Singh made him struggle and eat away the complete 18th over and pressure immediately mounted on the team.
  1. Maxwell mayhem : One possible reason to send Prabhsimran ahead of Maxwell was considering the latter’s form. Had that been a reason, then there would be no point in retaining him in the team. Chris Gayle should definitely replace him at the top soon!
  1. Narine’s action : Sunil Narine was reported for suspected bowling action when he bowled the last over against Maxwell. The committee is reviewing the status but Narine can continue to bowl until the verdict arrives. Hope he remains careful!
  1. Too many changes : Rahul looked no different to their former captain Ravi Ashwin who was making changes to the KXIP squad every single match during the last season. Captain, coach and the camp really look unsettled. They should trust in their right combination and allow them to play 2-3 games together.
  1. DK made a strong comeback : Just over 6 games for KKR, and DK was facing a wide criticism to step down as captain and to hand over the duties to Morgan. His decisions were very poor and he wasn’t able to accelerate the innings for KKR before this game. But he passed the test of his character with flying colors when he led from the front.

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