Kings XI Punjab bowed out of the VIVO IPL 2019 with a comprehensive 6-wicket victory over table-toppers Chennai Super Kings on Sunday evening at Mohali, ensuring they didn’t finish last on the points table. After deciding to bowl first with no chance of making it to the Playoffs, Ravichandran Ashwin’s men came back to restrict MS Dhoni’s team to a manageable 170-5, before KL Rahul’s blistering 71 from 36 balls at the top of the order ensured KXIP reached the target with two overs to spare.
Rahul began with a flurry of boundaries and sixes to kick off the KXIP run chase as, along with a subdued Chris Gayle at the other end, the openers added 68 runs and brought up the team’s 100 in the ninth over. Harbhajan Singh, who went for plenty in his opening two overs, returned to dismiss both the openers off successive deliveries, and added a third with the wicket of Mayank Agarwal, but the early damage, and a cameo from Nicholas Pooran towards the end, ensured KXIP reached home without much trouble.
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab’s decision to bowl first on a hot afternoon in Mohali looked to be a good one. Tiring conditions meant CSK batsmen weren’t on the offensive with every ball, especially after Sam Curran bowled Shane Watson for 7. But a 120-run stand between du Plessis and Raina blossomed in a little over 12 overs, setting the stage for a final flourish, but some tight bowling from KXIP towards the end restricted CSK to a par total.
Du Plessis’ wicket in the 19th over, and then Ambati Rayudu and KedarJadhav’s dismissals in the final over ensured CSK were kept to 170-5, with CSK captain MS Dhoni also managing an unbeaten 10 from 12 balls. Mohammed Shami, who curiously didn’t bowl his four overs, finished with figures of 2-17, while Curran ended up with 3-35.
Standout batting performance
KL Rahul finished as the second-highest run-getter of VIVO IPL 2019, at least until the Playoffs get under way, with 593 runs from 14 innings, his sixth half-century of the tournament coming at a ridiculous 19 balls. After playing out the first five balls of the innings without scoring, Rahul pulled Deepak Chahar’s last ball for a six to get off the mark, and was particularly severe on Harbhajan, who he smashed for two sixes in the second over, and took 24 from his next with two sixes and three fours. He was eventually out to Harbhajan, miscuing a ball straight up in the air, but had already done the damage with seven fours and five sixes in his 36-ball 71.
It was against KXIP that Faf du Plessis had played his first game of the 2019 VIVO IPL a month ago, scoring a half-century on that occasion. Despite going without a fifty since then, du Plessis was tuned in from the outset in Mohali, measured in defence and exquisite in attack. Du Plessis was happy playing second fiddle to the attacking Raina at first, but after reaching his half-century, swiftly changed gears. He hit two boundaries of Murugan Ashwin’s 11th over, and added another six and a four off his 15th. in Andrew Tye’s 16th over, du Plessis hit 4, 4 and 6 off the first three balls, signaling a shift in the scoring rate, and was set for a superb century when he launched Curran over midwicket for 6, only to be bowled the very next ball off a yorker. Du Plessis had 53 off 41 at one stage, but ended up with 96 off 55 with 10 fours and four sixes.
Notable Support Act – Batting
Nicholas Poorancontinued to impress with his batting ever since being drafted back into the KXIP line-up against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and finished off his debut season in the VIVO IPL with a brutal 36 from just 22 balls that included two fours and three sixes. He picked out the CSK spinners for special treatment in his innings and ensured KXIP finished off the run chase without any jitters towards the end, with two full overs remaining.
Suresh Raina has endured a difficult season in CSK colours this term, but with one eye on the Playoffs, the vice-captain of the team seems to have stepped up to the plate. The stylish left-hander had just one fifty all season before CSK’s previous game against Delhi Capitals, but has now scored two half-centuries on the bounce. After a cautious first few balls, Raina was away with a pulled boundary off Ashwin, before jumping down the track to launch Harpreet Brar over the wide long on boundary, before repeating it in his next over. He kept du Plessis company for a strong partnership as CSK were set for a strong total, but Raina’s dismissal against the run of play somewhat took the wind out of the backend of CSK’s innings.
Standout bowling performance
After a superb half-century in the previous game, albeit in a losing cause, Sam Curran ended his VIVO IPL 2019 campaign in just the way he began almost a month ago against Delhi Capitals. Curran used his changes in pace to good effect against CSK, going through the defence of Shane Watson to break through for his side in the fifth over, before returning towards the end of the innings to get the wickets of set batsmen Suresh Raina as well as Faf du Plessis, the latter being dismissed with a superb yorker four short of a century.
Harbhajan Singh has mostly figured in CSK’s home games this season, but playing on his actual home ground in Mohali, he was taken to the cleaners in the initial overs before a typical fightback from the off-spinner. After being taken for 24 off his second overs, Harbhajan returned to remove both the KXIP openers off successive balls. He lured KL Rahul into a false stroke that was easily caught by Imran Tahir, before Chris Gayle picked out DhruvShorey at long on. He added a third when Mayank Agarwal found Ravindra Jadeja, and Harbhajan Singh finished with figures of 3-57.
Notable Support Act – Bowling
Mohammed Shami has been the standout performer with the ball for KXIP this season, and against CSK, he once again showcased his penchant for taking wickets by scalping two in the 20th over of the innings. Shami got the wickets of Ambati Rayudu and KedarJadhav as CSK looked for big runs in the final over, but the India pacer’s figures of 2-17 from three overs ensured they ended up with a par total.
Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings: 170-5 (Faf du Plessis 96, Suresh Raina 53, Sam Curran 3-35, Mohammed Shami 2-17) lost to Kings XI Punjab: 173-4 (KL Rahul 71, Nicholas Pooran 36, Harbhajan Singh 3-57)
Man of the Match: KL Rahul, for his 71 from 36 balls.