KL Rahul scored the fastest every half-century in the IPL and set up Kings XI Punjab’schase of 167 against the Delhi Daredevils on Sunday evening. After opting to bowl and keeping the visitors to 166-7 at the IS BindraStadum in Mohali, KXIP’s run-chase turned to a matter of formality in the first five overs as Rahul smashed 50 off 14 balls. The hosts faced an asking rate of 8.35 at the start of their chase, but by the time Rahul was dismissed, the required run rate had dropped to a manageable 6.79.
Then Karun Nair, batting at number four, scored a fluent half-century and took his team closer. After he was dismissed in the 16th over, David Miller and Marcus Stoinis completed the formalities, taking their team past the finish line in the 19th over; KXIP won by 6 wickets.
Standout batting performances
In the days leading up to the match, the KXIP Director of Cricket Ops Virender Sehwag had said that his batsmen did not believe in scoring runs through singles. KL Rahul, opening the batting for KXIP, actually justified that comment as he dealt in the currency of boundaries. The batsman from Karnataka opened his account collecting a brace through midwicket, but thereafter found the boundary nearly every ball. Rahul hit the last three balls of Trent Boult’s first over for 6, 4 and 4, and extended the same treatment to Mohammed Shami in the next over, hitting the pacer for 6 & 4. Amit Mishra given the responsibility of bowling the third over, was welcomed with a boundary, following which Rahul collected 6, 6, 4 & 4 off the next four deliveries, in the process reaching his half-century. There was one top-edged boundary in Rahul’s knock; the rest of the six 4s and 3 sixes were struck crisply off the middle of the bat – and appeared laced with some intent too.
Rahul’s innings came to an end in the fifth over when he miscued a full toss from Trent Boult and was caught by Mohammed Shami just outside the circle at point; he made 51 from 16 balls.
Earlier in the afternoon, Gautam Gambhir held fort for the Delhi Daredevils. On his return to the DD dressing room, the left-hander scored 55 from 42 balls; his innings was laced with five boundaries and a six. The DD captain didn’t take too many chances against the pacers, but when faced against the spinners, he batted freely, didn’t hesitate in coming down the ground and took the aerial route. Gambhir was particularly harsh on the left-arm spinner Axar Patel, whom he hit for 22 runs off 9 deliveries. He got to his half-century off 36 balls, but was run out shortly after when he couldn’t beat a direct hit from Mujeeb Ur Rahman attempting a quick single.
Notable Support Act - Batting
There were two other batting performances of note in the match. In the DD innings, Rishabh Pant appeared to be striking the ball well; he struck 4 boundaries and a six, and had raced to 28 off 12 balls, before he was dismissed attempting an ugly hoick.
The other noteworthy contribution with the bat came from KXIP’s Karun Nair, who made 50 from 33 balls –the bulk of his runs being scored in the traditional ‘V’. Karun’s knock contained five fours and two sixes – the second of the sixes taking him to his half-century.
Standout bowling performance
On a pitch that had a bit of green, it was two spinners who returned respectable figures. R Ashwin mixed his off-breaks and leg-breaks to good effect, maintained his control despite attempting the variations, and finished with tidy figures of 4-0-23-1 – not conceding a single boundary in his spell.
The other standout bowling performance was that of the Mujeeb Ur Rahman – who at 17 years and 11 days became the youngest to play in the IPL. KXIP’s mystery spinner wasted no time in making his mark; he struck with his third delivery when he had Colin Munro, who was shaping to play a reverse sweep, in a complete tangle and dismissed him LBW. The Afghan teenager then accounted for the dismissal of a well-set Rishabh Pant and eventually finished with figures of 4-0-28-2.
Notable Support Act – Bowling
Mohit Sharma, playing only his second competitive match in more than six months, returned with figures of 2-33 from his four overs. The 29-year old was tidy in his first two overs – conceding only 11 runs while also picking up the wicket of Vijay Shankar.But he came in for some tap later on - conceding 23 runswhen he bowled the 17th and 20th overs.
Stat of the Match:
Ball-by-ball detail of KL Rahul’s innings read: . 2 . 6 4 4 6 4 1 4 6 6 4 4 . W
Delhi Daredevils 166-7 (Gautam Gambhir 55, Rishabh Pant 28, Mujeeb ur Rahman 2-28) lost to Kings XI Punjab 167-4 in 18.5 overs (KL Rahul 51, Karun Nair 50) by 6 wkts.
Man of the Match: KL Rahul, for his stroke-filled 16-ball 51.