Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was a relieved man after leading Kings XI Punjab to a comfortable win over Delhi Daredevils in Mohali on Sunday. Opener KL Rahul blasted his way to a fastest ever half-century in Indian Premier League as a new look Kings XI Punjab started their campaign on a resounding note defeating Delhi Daredevils by six wickets.
Ashwin marshalled his resources admirably restricting Daredevils to a mediocre 166 for 7 on a placid track.
Ashwin, who has donned the captain's hat for the first time in his career, said he was relieved after winning the match.
"There is lesser pressure now. I had a bit of nerves going in for the toss. Feeling a bit relieved now. I had some elaborate plans going in the practice games. KL Rahul and the other guys helped me execute them," Ashwin said after the match.
The KXIP captain himself bowled a few leg breaks during his disciplined effort of 1 for 23 in 4 overs. The surprise package was Afghanistan off-spinner Mujeeb-r Rahman, who finished with 2 for 28 in 4 overs.
Courtesy Rahul, who smashed six boundaries and four sixes in his 16-ball-51, the match as a contest was over within the Powerplay as KXIP raced away to 73 for 2 in six overs.
Karun Nair, who has had a mixed season, then helped himself to a 33-ball-50 as the home team reached the target in 18.5 overs.
"It doesn't matter if it's a left-arm spinner to a left-hander or a right-arm spinner for a right hander. I think it's just the perception that one has and I would like to think my best bowlers are the best bowlers and if they get hit, so be it, we will try and chase it down. That's the thought process. I wanted a lot of guys to have a good hit and we batted well today," Ashwin added.
Earlier, Gambhir's 42-ball 55 helped Delhi Daredevils post a decent total of 166.
Gambhir's knock was studded with five boundaries and a six and he fell run out in he 15th over dealing a blow to Delhi's hopes of achieving a big total.
Delhi were restricted by a fine bowling display by Punjab, with 17-year-old spinner Rahman making his IPL debut. Since the youngster was bowling finger spinners, it allowed Ashwin to bowl some leg-breaks, which he has been trying in order to remain in contention alongside Yuzevndra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav for a place in the Indian limited overs side.
Meanwhile, Rahul, who was adjudged the Man of the Match, said he was happy to create history.
"I just went in there and I just took off. I didn't plan this innings. I was just watching the ball and getting into good positions. It's an opener's responsibility to get the team off to a good start. Really happy that it came off today. I was striking the ball really well, but it's important to forget this innings and move on to the coming games.
"I don't want to be overconfident. I have been branded as a Test cricketer for 4-5 years, so it's good for me to be up there creating history and breaking the record (for the fastest IPL fifty)," he said.