Cricket

Rahul's 14-ball fifty helps KXIP off to winning start


IPL 2018

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Rahul smashed a 14-ball half-century – fastest in IPL history. © BCCI

Kings XI Punjab began their sojourn under R Ashwin’s captaincy with a clinical six-wicket win over Gautam Gambhir’s Delhi Daredevils in Mohali. KXIP’s debutants shone brightly for the home team, with Mujeeb Ur Rahman, KL Rahul, Karun Nair and R Ashwin all playing their parts in the win. Rahul was the standout performer, slamming a record 14-ball fifty that helped KXIP get their chase off to a flier. Nair then stepped up with a more composed fifty to take his side closer. For Delhi, Gambhir was the best on view with a fine fifty up front. However, a mini-collpase during their innings, and Rahul smashing innings took the game away from them.

Where did Delhi Daredevils lose the game?

During two phases.

They were going along swimmingly well at 111 for 3 in the 14th over before disaster struck. Rishabh Pant hoicked Mujeeb to a diving Andrew Tye, and a mini-collapse eventuated. A well-set Gambhir was dismissed in the next over for a fine 42-ball 55, while Rahul Tewatia’s dismissal one over later seriously hurt Delhi Daredevils. Suddenly, Delhi were struggling at 125 for 6, and needed their lower order to bail them out. Chris Morris’s 16-ball 27 lifted them off the rut, but DD could only manage 166 for 7, when at one stage, 180+ looked very possible.

Second, when Rahul went berserk. The right-hander took three balls to get into his stride, but one he did, he batted like a man possessed. He slammed Trent Boult for six and two fours in the opening over, before hitting Mohammed Shami for one hit each to and over the fence. The harshest treatment was meted out to Amit Mishra. Rahul took a liking to the leg spinner, who bowled the third over of the innings, and slammed him for 24 runs, which included two sixes and three fours, the last of which brought up his fifty – off just 14 balls – the fastest ever in IPL history. Nair, with a fifty on KXIP debut, and David Miller ensured KXIP won on a canter in the end.

How much did DD miss Glenn Maxwell?

Quite a bit. With no Maxwell acting as balance in the middle order, DD were forced to send in Vijay Shankar at number four. With Gambhir playing the anchor’s role to perfection, Shankar’s run-a-ball 13 put a plug on their momentum. It allowed KXIP to pull things back a touch, and keep themselves in the game. Once DD lost three wickets for 14 runs soon after, KXIP had the upper hand.

Who were KXIP’s best bowlers?

Two debutants. One making his captaincy debut in the IPL – R Ashwin – and the other making his IPL debut – Mujeeb Ur Rahman. The spinners made up for the rest of the bowlers’ off days by not only picking key wickets, but also restricting the run flow.

Mujeeb’s variety made him difficult to pick for the batsman. The spinner put out a full array of tricks, and ended with impressive figures of 2 for 28. Ashwin, who opened the bowling, ensured he kept things tight, constantly mixing his orthodox off spinners with wrist spin to keep the batsman guessing. The pair combined to give away 51 runs for three wickets in their eight overs.

Does KXIP’s win mask any flat performances?

Yep, of their two most important players. Yuvraj Singh played a painfully slow innings despite enjoying a brilliant platform. KXIP will be relieved that is 22-ball 12 didn’t cost them in the chase. Another worrying performance came from Axar Patel, the man KXIP had retained ahead of the auctions. The left-armer leaked runs aplenty, but will take some heart knowing most came off Gambhir. Axar gave away 35 runs in his three overs, and will pray that the performance is just a one off.

Where do the teams go from here?

KXIP travel down south to Bengaluru to take on Royal Challengers Bangalore, while the Daredevils will hope to shrug off their loss in the opener when they take on Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.

Brief Scores: Delhi Daredevils 166/7 (Gautam Gambhir 55, Rishabh Pant 28, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2-28) lost to Kings XI Punjab 167/4 (Lokesh Rahul 51, Karun Nair 50, Daniel Christian 1-12) by six wickets.

© Cricbuzz

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