Kings XI Punjab have surely learnt the art of winning matches as the side roped in its third consecutive win in IPL 2020, seeing off table-toppers Delhi Capitals with a six-wicket victory in Dubai on Tuesday.
While the day earlier belonged to Shikhar Dhawan, who became the first batsman to score back-to-back IPL tons and fifth batsman to score 5000 runs in the league, setting up an achievable total of 165 with other batsman misfiring meant KXIP chased down the target in the 19th over despite some niggles.
Chasing the 165, Kings XI Punjab suffered a major blow in their skipper and orange cap holder KL Rahul. The right-hander was removed by Axar Patel in the third over with just 17 runs on board, with Rahul scoring 15 of them.
Chris Gayle, in at no.3, took charge after the early jolt by taking Tushar Deshpande for 25 runs in the fifth over with three boundaries and two sixes.
However, the Gayle Storm ended before it could reach the shores as R Ashwin clean bowled the burly Jamaican in the next over for 23 (off 13). Three balls later, a poor call for a single from newly-in Nicholas Pooran saw Ashwin and Rishabh Pant combine to run out Mayank Agarwal (5 off 9) to leave KXIP in grave danger at 56/3 before the powerplay ended.
The left-hander, however, made up for his error with a quickfire 53 off just 28 balls as he stitched 40-ball 69 stand with Glenn Maxwell for the fourth wicket. Pooran clobbered six fours and three boundaries to add further pace to an already accelerated KXIP innings to take the match away from the table toppers.
By the time Pooran departed in the 13th over to Kagiso Rabada off a faintest of edges, the match was heavily tilted in KXIP’s favour with 40 runs needed off 46 deliveries.
Maxwell (32 off 24) had the chance to finish off the game but the swashbuckling Oz batsman threw away his wicket in the 16th over to Rabada.
However with 16 needed off 23, Deepak Hooda (15 not out) and Jimmy Neesham (10 not out) took the side home with 5 balls to spare.
Earlier in the first innings, Dhawan almost single-handedly took DC to 164/5 wickets in their 20 overs with an unbeaten 106 off 61 balls; becoming the first player in IPL history to score back-to-back centuries.
The left-hander, however, hardly got any support from the rest of his teammates, who combined to score 54 runs off 59 balls. DC captain Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who returned after an injury, are the joint second highest scorers behind Dhawan with 14 runs each.
Pacer Mohammed Shami was the star of what was an economical bowling effort from KXIP. He took two wickets and conceded 28 runs in his four overs. Jimmy Neesham, brought in for Chris Jordan, provided the breakthrough with the wicket of the out of form Prithvi Shaw. Murugan Ashwin dismissed Shreyas while Pant fell to Glenn Maxwell.