For Kings XI Punjab, it was about finishing on a high and maybe even spoiling the playoff scenario for Chennai Super Kings by completing a thumping win. As it turned out, Punjab defeated Chennai by six wickets with two overs to spare, thanks to a 19-ball fifty from opener KL Rahul on Sunday.
With no real pressure, it was Punjab who came up with the goods as they chased down Chennai’s total of 170-5 with ease. Rahul was the main architect of the win, hitting seven fours and five sixes during his 36-ball 71.
Despite the defeat, Chennai ended up on 18 points and a net run rate of .131, which means they will play the first IPL 2019 Qualifier.
Veterans get going for Chennai
Surprisingly lackadaisical finish by CSK. 170 not a poor score but after the big and racy partnership between Faf and Raina, 190 looked a cinch. Dhoni seemed lacklustre and distracted too, as if already mentally preoccupied with the play-off match!— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) May 5, 2019
The Super Kings will be pleased with the efforts of Faf du Plessis (96 off 55 balls) and Suresh Raina (53 off 38). It was their effort which put some impetus in the innings that was expertly controlled by Punjab bowlers. Pacers Mohammed Shami (2-17 from three overs) and Sam Curran (3-35) were on top of their game while skipper Ravi Ashwin was at his miserly best, giving away just 23 runs from his four overs.
While the 120-run stand between Faf and Raina was great news for Chennai heading into the playoffs, the scoring rate of the likes of Shane Watson (7 off 11 balls) and MS Dhoni (10 off 12) left a lot to be desired. A total of 170-5 was a bit anticlimactic given a massive century stand at the top of the order.
Rahul goes on a rampage
Punjab opener KL Rahul loves the Mohali ground. He recorded the fastest fifty in the history of IPL at the venue – off 14 balls against Delhi last year. At the same venue a year later, Rahul went after Chennai’s seasoned attack, taking particular liking to Harbhajan Singh who he smashed for 24 runs in the fourth over of the chase to race to 52 off just 19 balls. It was the third fastest fifty of IPL 2019 and the fastest-ever scored against Chennai.
While Rahul was going hammer and tongs, Chris Gayle wasn’t even in double figures. The scoreboard kept ticking over as Punjab reached exactly 100 in 10 overs.
Bhajji hits back
Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan was smashed for 41 runs in his first two overs but came back to dismiss both Rahul and Gayle off successive deliveries in the 11th over. In his last over, the offie had Mayank Agarwal caught at deep square leg to bring some hope back in the Chennai camp as KXIP were 126-3 with 45 needed from seven overs.
However, in-form Nicholas Pooran made 36 off 22 balls to put the result beyond any doubt.
A win against Royal Challengers Bangalore would have all but confirmed Sunrisers Hyderabad’s qualification to the Indian Premier League playoffs. But Shimron Hetmyer had other ideas and the visitors were subject to a second half come-back led by the Windies youngster on Saturday.
Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson felt that his team did well to set up a competitive total but RCB’s brilliance took the game away from them.
“Every time you turn up you like an element of control. At the halfway stage it felt like we set a competitive total. Credit to Bangalore for the way they stuck out and kept coming hard at us. Naturally when you take your opportunities it does help. But that is a game of cricket.
“It would’ve been nice to get 10-15 runs in the first innings, but credit to Bangalore for keeping up the pressure. I suppose there are a number of fine lines, our last two matches could’ve gone either way but we ended up on the wrong side.”
Winning captain Virat Kohli said his team managed to avoid what could have been a humiliating season and fought till the end.
“If we focus on the second half, it is exactly what we wanted in the first half. After losing your first six matches, it is very difficult to come back in a tournament like IPL. We have a lot to learn from this season. The first couple of things matters a lot in setting the intensity. We are happy with the way guys have turned things around and the kind of cricket that we have played in the second half.
“A lot of credit goes to the team management for getting us back in the right frame of mind. We haven’t finished in the position that we wanted to. But because the second half has been so good it doesn’t feel like a bad season.”
Kohli showered praise on Windies starlet Hetmyer and hoped his team benefits from more of the same in the future.
“When me and ABD got out, I think the opposition took it lightly. We spoke upstairs that time for someone else to show up. Both Hetmyer and Gurkeerat played really well. We know Hetmyer can play like that. We would like Hetty (Hetmyer) to play like he did today next year. And Gurkeerat played a really mature innings. He has a keen eye for the game,” Kohli concluded.
The last time these two sides, it turned out to be a six-fest of monumental proportions. As Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders gear up for the final league game of IPL 2019 on Sunday, the protagonists from that match will square off once again with a lot on line for both teams.
In their previous match-up, KKR star all-rounder Andre Russell blasted 80 off just 40 balls and took two wickets and two catches in a high-scoring win. Russell was almost upstaged by Mumbai gamechanger Hardik Pandya who blasted an astonishing 91 off 34 balls to bring his team to within 34 runs of the 233-run target.
The two hit a combined 17 sixes in that match. With the game on Sunday to be held in Mumbai, chances are sixes will rain once again.
Mumbai have already qualified for the playoffs while KKR have a simple equation in front of them – win and qualify for the playoffs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad could have all but secured qualification had they beaten the hapless RCB on Saturday but they slipped and are now stuck on 12 points with Kolkata. All the Knight Riders need to do now is to win by any margin and make it to the playoffs.
Mumbai will be keen to register a win and climb up to second position. They will be tied with Delhi Capitals on 18 points but will be ahead on net run rate, thus making it to the first Qualifier and not the Eliminator.
Kolkata will also be banking on young batting prodigy Shubman Gill to continue his new-found form at the top of the order as they aim to get a headstart in the powerplay overs.
The youngster has hit successive fifties after being promoted as opener and the Knight Riders will be hoping for an encore to secure qualification.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Barinder Sran, Rahul Chahar, lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah
KKR: Shubman Gill, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (c and wk), Rinku Singh, Piyush Chawla, Harry Gurney, Sandeep Warrier