Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders – two teams that I’ve represented in my IPL career squared off against each other yesterday. It was a virtual knockout at Mohali with both teams fighting for survival in the playoffs race. Kolkata seized the all-important win and now head into the final game with hopes of qualification.
I think the KKR players are peaking at the right time. Shubman Gill’s knock at the top was a treat to the eyes. The youngster’s temperament is phenomenal, and he never looked out of place in his innings. Dinesh Karthik, the captain, has been leading from the front. He looked animated in the field, and his fiery cameo in the end carried the team to a comfortable five-wicket win.
KXIP raise an above-par total
It isn’t a secret that Punjab’s batting unit depends heavily on their star openers. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have been in terrific form. They have been slightly slow at the start but they catch-up and pile tall scores. Yesterday, it was Sandeep Warrier who dismissed both and dented Punjab’s hopes early. The responsibility fell on the shoulders of Mayank Agarwal and Nicholas Pooran. I think they played their roles to perfection.
I was extremely impressed by the way Sam Curran batted yesterday in his fantastic 55 not out in 24 balls. He was brave as well as intelligent. He muscled his way to the boundary but also used his brains to make most of the bowler’s pace at times. I feel him taking 22 runs off Harry Gurney’s last over was the key moment in KXIP’s innings. Their final total of 183 should have been enough had they bowled with discipline.
Splendid chase from KKR
Kings XI Punjab bowlers needed to pick early wickets to stymie Kolkata’s charge and they disappointed. Shubman Gill and Chris Lynn fired away. Gill is a batsman with tremendous talent. He is temperamentally solid and has a wonderful batting technique. His unbeaten 65 off 49 balls at the top steadied KKR’s ship. His presence at the crease till the last ball of the chase was impressive to see.
Dinesh Karthik’s form in the finish will light up the hearts of KKR’s team management. To have someone other than Andre Russell finishing the game is important going into the playoffs. I think KXIP bowlers missed out yesterday. KKR were way too strong, and they outclassed Ashwin’s team in the field. I will back the Purple Army to make it to the playoffs.