INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE 2018
KL Rahul scored an unbeaten 70-ball 95 and still ended up on the losing side on Tuesday night. © BCCI
Twice in three days, KL Rahul was tasked with the job of seeing the chase through for Kings XI Punjab against the same opposition, Rajasthan Royals. In the first one at Indore, he scored 11 less than what he got in Jaipur but still finished on the winning side. While the totals chased in both games were similar (152 and 158), there was a stark difference in the other parameters on the scorecard. Rahul’s strike-rate in Indore was 155.56, significantly higher than his 135.71 in Jaipur, which again was remarkably boosted by the 32 runs he scored off his last nine balls.
And unlike Indore, on Tuesday (May 8), KXIP never really seemed to be in the game in the last five overs where they scored at ten an over, three runs per over less than the asking rate. As a result of which, KXIP fell 15 runs short of RR’s 158, who had been propelled to that by Jos Buttler‘s fine 82. A question of approach arose post match to Brad Hodge, KXIP’s coach, if Rahul could have been a little more aggressive earlier in the chase.”It was difficult. Look, if he [Rahul] had pushed a bit harder and lost his wicket, then we might not have gotten close. It is a different thing in hindsight. If you maintain a level, and if you have to chase 12 an over in the last five, you can get that but it probably got a little bit out of hand. You cannot leave it all on KL. If we had contributions from the middle order, we might have been in a better position. But that didn’t happen,” said Hodge, pointing towards another difference between the scorecards of both games.
In Indore, apart from Rahul, there were contributions from Karun Nair (31 off 23) and Marcus Stoinis (23* off 16) which did not happen in Jaipur – where as many as six batsmen fell to single-digit scores. The conditions for both games were starkly different too, right from the size of the boundaries (small in Indore to big in Jaipur) to the pitch, which had both captains guessing as to how it’ll play.”Actually, after the first six overs I thought it was a 180-190 pitch. And then it sort of changed very quickly and started to slow up. I thought 160-170 was going to be a very good score,” said Jos Buttler who scored 82 for Rajasthan in the first innings.
In a move to capitalise early on a pitch that was slow and turning, KXIP even experimented with R Ashwin as a pinch-hitter at number three, a move that failed instantly, sending their powerplay plans for a toss. “We knew this was going to be a tough chase. We never got momentum going. We lost early wickets. We knew we had to maximise our powerplay. At the end of the powerplay, we were 20 runs short of where we should have been and that cost us a bit. We could not get back into the game,” added Hodge.
KXIP’s coach also admitted that their batting problems in this game were reflective of the broader problems they have had this season.”It [middle-order] has been [a concern], for sure. We know that KL is in great form and when Chris Gayle fires, anything can happen. We have got some extremely talented players and we need them to lift a little bit and contribute a little bit more to what they are doing. That is the reality for most teams. If your one, two and three fire, you are in pretty good shape. Unfortunately today, we did not have anyone to help KL Rahul get the job done. It is a slight area of concern,” he said.
Despite the loss, KXIP retained their third spot in the points table, two ahead of the team [Kolkata Knight Riders] they play next, who are also placed immediately below them with 10 points themselves.