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After their batsmen, especially Glenn Maxwell, stole headlines in their first three games of the season, the KXIP bowlers came to the party during their game against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Defending a modest 132 runs, the KXIP bowlers, led by Sandeep Sharma, dismissed KKR for 109 to register a 23-run win. Thanks to this win, KXIP remain unbeaten in Pepsi IPL 2014 after four matches.
Earlier, KKR won the toss and asked KXIP to bat first. The Mohali franchise lost Cheteshwar Pujara (8) in the second over; the KXIP opener was run-out. Wriddhiman Saha then walked in to join Virender Sehwag at the end. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who was trapped leg-before by Jacques Kallis, had the lion’s share in their brief partnership. And at the fall of his wicket, KXIP’s destructor-in-chief, Glenn Maxwell, took strike opposite Sehwag. As expected, the two hard-hitters took the attack to the KKR bowlers.
The third-wicket pair had added 30 runs in quick time, when onlookers were greeted by an uncommon sight – Maxwell (15) getting out cheaply.
The current Orange Cap holder suffered a rare failure as Morne Morkel cleaned him up in the eighth over. However, Maxwell was not the only one who had an atypical day at the office; even David Miller (14) perished early while going for a big one off Piyush Chawla. And while skipper George Bailey (11) looked like he was building a meaningful partnership with Sehwag, he became Chawla’s next victim with the score reading 101 for five.
Even Sehwag (37) was dismissed in a short while. Despite getting a start, he could not convert his stay in the middle into a big innings as Chawla knocked his stumps over. The other KKR spinner, Sunil Narine, then got in on the action as he had Akshar Patel (7) stumped in the 19th over with KXIP on 126 for seven. The crafty off-spinner then bowled Mitchell Johnson (0) out off his next delivery. While Gautam Gambhir deployed two slips for the hat-trick ball to add some pressure, Lakshmipathy Balaji (0) successfully fended it away. However, Narine trapped him leg-before off the next ball to reduce KXIP to 126 for nine. Rishi Dhawan (19) and Sandeep Sharma (2) then played out the final over and took the KXIP score to 132 for nine.
For KKR, both spinners – Mishra and Narine – bagged three wickets apiece and were the chief architects of KXIP’s collapse.
In response, KKR opened with a new combination – Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis. However, this change did not work out for them as Pandey (8) was trapped leg-before in the third over by Sandeep Sharma. Gautam Gambhir (1), coming in at No.3, finally bucked the trend of getting out on zero by scoring a run in Pepsi IPL 2014. But that was all the KKR skipper could do by the time Sharma got rid of him in the fifth over. Kallis (9) was the next man to depart; the veteran opener was caught by Maxwell off the bowling of Balaji.
At that point, KKR were on 19 for three and in a heap of trouble. Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa then paired up to take the run-chase forward. But just when it seemed as though Lynn (13) had got a handle on the KXIP bowlers, Akshar Patel bowled him out. With KKR needing 83 off 53 balls, Yusuf Pathan (3) walked in to bat. But the hard-hitter could not work his magic in this match and was trapped leg-before by Rishi Dhawan in the 13th over. Uthappa (19) followed him to the dugout just three runs later, when he was found short of his ground following a direct hit by Bailey.
And shortly after that, Patel had Chawla (0) stumped, thereby all but derailing KKR’s run-chase. And when Narine (5) walked in to bat, his team was tottering on 65 for seven in 13.4 overs. He too departed off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson without making much of an impact on the run-chase. Despite Suryakumar Yadav’s (34) 17-ball late-innings cameo, which was ended by Sandeep Sharma in the 18th over, the seemingly meagre target was unattainable. Johnson then cleaned up Umesh Yadav (2) to draw KKR’s innings to a close for 109 in 18.2 overs.
For KXIP, Sharma took three wickets for 21 in his four overs. He was complemented by Johnson and Patel, who took two wickets apiece. Even Balaji and Dhawan chipped in with a wicket each.
Man of the Match: Sandeep Sharma for his game-changing spell of 4-1-21-3
The Rajasthan Royals registered a six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, after getting the opposition out for a measly 70. Aided by Pravin Tambe’s four-for, the Royals maintained a stranglehold on the RCB batters, who looked clueless on a track that turned out to be a bowler’s paradise. RR then successfully attained the target with six wickets in hand and seven overs to spare.
Earlier, Shane Watson chose to have first crack at the RCB batsmen upon winning the toss on a green Abu Dhabi track. The decision paid off almost immediately as Stuart Binny got rid of Yogesh Takawale (0) on the fourth ball of the innings. And then, Parthiv Patel (1) was run-out off the very next delivery, leaving RCB on one for two in the first over itself. The RR bowlers had their tails up, thanks to the early breakthroughs, and they made the situation worse for their opponents. Kane Richardson dismissed Yuvraj Singh off the first ball of the third over of the RCB innings (3). Richardson made it two in two when he cleaned up AB de Villiers (0) off the next ball he bowled.
At five for four, RCB were staring down the barrel and needed a valuable partnership to steer them out of trouble. Amidst the collapse, Virat Kohli was joined by Sachin Rana at the other end. And just when it seemed like the RCB skipper had found a reliable partner, Shane Watson sent him back to the dugout; Rana (3) was bowled out in the sixth over with the scorecard reading 17 for five. And 11 runs later, Kohli lost yet another ally in Albie Morkel (7); the middle-order batsman handed Steve Smith a skier off the bowling of Pravin Tambe.
Thereafter, Kohli and Mitchell Starc tried to dig RCB out of a hole. Despite all the pressure exerted by the RR bowlers, they struck the odd-boundary to keep the scoreboard ticking. However, Tambe halted their 18-run stand – the highest of the innings – with the big wicket of Kohli (21). Then, Starc (18) departed in Rajat Bhatia’s only over of the innings, leaving RCB on 62 for eight. Ravi Rampaul (13) and Ashok Dinda then added eight runs for the ninth wicket, until the former became Tambe’s third victim. And three balls later, the 42-year-old leg-spinner ended the RCB innings by trapping Dinda (0) leg-before.
Thanks to Tambe (4-0-20-4) and Richardson’s (4-0-18-2) efforts – which were complemented by the other five RR bowlers – the Royal Challengers could only manage a total of 70 runs by the time they were bowled out at the end of 15 overs.
RR’s response was fuelled by Ajinkya Rahane, who took charge of proceedings early on. The right-handed opener lashed out at any loose deliveries along with rotating the strike with Karun Nair. However, Rahane (23) departed with the RR score on 31 in the fifth over. Sanju Samson – the next man in – was then run-out in the next over. With a slight momentum shift, Starc returned to dismiss Nair (8) in the seventh over of the innings with the score on 36.
But despite these hiccups, there was no twist in this tale as Abhishek Nayar (8*) and Shane Watson (24) steadily chipped away at the target. And while Watson got out with his team three runs adrift of the target in the 13th over, Stuart Binny (3*) took RR over the line off the very next ball. The Royals ended up winning by a six-wicket margin with seven overs to spare.
Man of the Match: Pravin Tambe for his game-changing four-wicket haul