RPS’ run-chase never really had any kind of momentum. That was until MS Dhoni produced a breathtaking knock under pressure. After Thisara Perera - the last of the capable batsmen was dismissed at the beginning of the 19th over - RPS still needed 29 runs from 11 balls. Mohit Sharma completed the 19th over tidily, conceding only one boundary and two singles in the remaining five deliveries.
Dhoni had saved his best for the last. Until the 20th over, Dhoni wasn’t at his fluent best; though he had hit two sixes and three boundaries and had raced to 42 from 26, he hadn’t been able to get the ball away as frequently as he would have liked. Come the last over (bowled by Axar Patel), and the last four balls in particular – with his team needing 22 runs – Dhoni exploded; he hit the second ball of the final over for a six over wide long-on and two balls later picked up a boundary through extra-cover which brought up his only half-century of the season. He then deposited the next two deliveries into the crowds – both over the midwicket boundary, and RPS had registered a thrilling win, with Dhoni signing off with his trademark helicopter shot.
The RPS skipper, who had on occasions turned down the opportunity to cross over for runs, had accomplished what looked like an improbable task at one point in time; credit to Dhoni for backing his abilities and believing he could complete the job. He finished unbeaten on 64 and hit four boundaries and five sixes in his 32-ball outing. Usman Khawaja’s 29-ball 30 and Perera’s 14-ball 23 were the other noteworthy contributions in RPS’ run-chase.
For KXIP, Gurkeerat Singh picked up two wickets bowling his off-spin, while Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Axar Patel and Rishi Dhawan returned with one wicket apiece. It was a huge gamble by the KXIP captain to hand the ball to the left-arm spinner to bowl the final over; as it transpired, the gamble cost them the match and KXIP would finish the season at the bottom of the table.
Earlier in the evening, after opting to bat first, KXIP posted 172-7, thanks mainly to half-centuries from skipper Murali Vijay and Gurkeerat Singh. The visitors started steadily with Vijay and Usman Khawaja adding 60 runs for the first wicket. After the latter was dismissed, Vijay carried on and brought up his fourth half-century of the season as captain; he and Gurkeerat added 58 runs for the third wicket, before both batsmen were dismissed in the space of two overs. Vijay was dismissed for 59, while Gurkeerat perished for 51 – his maiden IPL half-century.
Those two dismissals robbed KXIP of momentum at the fag end of the innings. KXIP lost 4 for 32 in the final three overs, yet finished at a competitive 172-7.
For RPS, R Ashwin returned with figures of 4-34 – his best figures in the IPL; his scalps on the night included those of Amla, Vijay, Gurkeerat and David Miller. Ashok Dinda, Perera and Adam Zampa played the supporting role well, picking up a wicket each.
Kings XI Punjab 172-7 in 20.0 Overs (Murali Vijay 59, Gurkeerat Singh 51, R Ashwin 4-34) lost to Rising Pune Supergiants 173-6 in 20.0 Overs (MS Dhoni 64*, Usman Khawaja 30, Gurkeerat Singh 2-15)
Man of the Match: MS Dhoni, for his match-winning 64* of 32 balls.