Kings XI Punjab continued their dominance in Pepsi IPL 2014 by registering a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, in Dubai. With this victory, KXIP end their UAE leg as the only undefeated team in the league. Powered by outstanding bowling performances from Sandeep Sharma, Rishi Dhawan and Mitchell Johnson, the Mohali franchise restricted a strong RCB line-up to 124 for eight. And later, their batsmen ensured they scaled the meagre total with five wickets in hand and seven balls to spare. With this win, KXIP solidify their position atop the points table heading into the India leg of the tournament.
Earlier, KXIP won the toss and asked RCB to take first strike. And upon his return in RCB colours, Chris Gayle got off to a flyer. He made his presence felt almost immediately by striking two fours and two huge sixes. However, after taking his team to 21 in just 1.2 overs, Gayle’s (20) seven-ball cameo ended; Sandeep Sharma bowled him out, much to the delight of the KXIP faithful. Virat Kohli (4) then joined Parthiv Patel in the middle, but the RCB skipper was trapped leg-before by Sandeep Sharma immediately after he dispatched the first ball he faced to the fence. The situation worsened for RCB as Yogesh Takawale (0) was caught behind the wicket by Wriddhiman Saha off Mitchell Johnson in the third over of the innings. Even Parthiv Patel (2) did not last long; he became Sandeep Sharma’s third victim of the night. At that point, RCB’s score read 26 for four in 3.5 overs.
That is when Yuvraj Singh joined forces with AB de Villiers. The duo somewhat stabilised the faltering innings and entertained the crowd with some great strokeplay. They even took their team past the 50-run mark during their 41-run partnership. However, with the score on 67, the duo was separated by Rishi Dhawan, who dismissed de Villiers (17) in the 10th over. Then, Albie Morkel (15) paired up with Yuvraj Singh, but even he departed before converting a decent start into a meaningful score; Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled him out, leaving RCB on 93 for six in the 14th over.
Soon after that, Dhawan dismissed a well-set Yuvraj Singh (35) to make it 97 for seven. Mitchell Starc (8) and Varun Aaron then added 23 runs for the eighth wicket, until the former was bowled out by Mitchell Johnson in the final over of the innings. Aaron (11*) and Ashok Dinda (2*) then played out the rest of the innings and stretched the RCB score to 124 for eight at the end of the 20th over, which cost KXIP a mere four runs.
While Sandeep Sharma (3-1-15-3) was the pick of the KXIP bowlers, Johnson (4-0-19-2) and Dhawan (4-0-14-2) also played a big role in dismantling the RCB line-up.
In response, KXIP persisted with the opening pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag. The duo added 22 for the first wicket, until Pujara (10) was dismissed by Dinda in the fifth over. And while Sehwag continued playing some fabulous strokes, he lost another partner in Saha (2) just a short while later; Aaron got rid of the KXIP wicketkeeper-batsman – courtesy a great catch by Starc – in the sixth over. Kings XI managed 33 for the loss of two wickets during the powerplay.
At the fall of the second wicket, Glenn Maxwell (6) came in to bat. However, much to the disappointment of KXIP fans, the current Orange Cap holder got out early; Starc took another spectacular catch in the deep off Aaron’s bowling to get rid of the hard-hitting Australian. He was replaced by another flamboyant stroke-maker, David Miller, with the scorecard reading 40 for three in 7.1 overs. And while it wasn’t Maxwell’s night, Miller did contribute with a valuable knock. In Sehwag’s company, the South African batsman added 45 for the fourth wicket. Eventually, Miller (26) was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal, leaving KXIP on 85 for four in 12.2 overs.
And just when it seemed like RCB were out of the contest, Chahal struck again in the same over to end Sehwag’s (32) knock. However, KXIP skipper George Bailey (16*) and the ever-reliable Rishi Dhawan (23*) ensured their side did not suffer any more setbacks as they took their side over the line with seven balls to spare.
Man of the Match: Sandeep Sharma for his game-changing bowling performance