Kings XI Punjab’s sinking campaign in IPL 2020 descended further after a 69-run hammering by the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad. Nicholas Pooran tried to keep KXIP alive in the game with a whirlwind 77 off 37 balls but found no support as the next highest individual score in the innings was a mere 11.
Asked to bowl first after losing the toss, it was the same old story for the KL Rahul-led side with the ball. They extended their wicketless streak from 21.4 overs to 36.4, the longest in the IPL history now. On the other hand, the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s openers - Jonny Bairstow and David Warner - became the joint fastest to notch up 1,000 runs as an opening pair. These contrasting stats were enough to narrate KXIP’s struggle in the first half of the game.
The Warner-Bairstow show
Bairstow and Warner were in their elements again after underwhelming returns in the last few games. Warner, especially, showed intent stroking Sheldon Cottrell for two boundaries in the first over. Bairstow appeared fluent, piercing the gap through the off side a number of times during the field restrictions. The pair moved largely at 10 runs per over in the Powerplay amassing 58 runs without being separated. The KXIP bowling trio of Cottrell, Mohammed Shami and Mujeeb Ur Rahman - bowling two overs each in the Powerplay - could only induce a couple of half chances.
Laying the foundation for themselves, the pair took the sword to the KXIP bowlers throughout the middle-overs.
In a destructive phase of batting, Warner and Bairstow amassed 102 runs in nine overs. Bairstow was particularly severe scoring 71 runs off 35 balls in this phase. He tonked the spinners for 54 runs during this time off 18 balls hitting Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb and Ravi Bishnoi for two sixes each.
Watching Bairstow unleash himself, Warner preferred the backseat. Playing the anchor's role once again, he faced only 20 balls in the middle-overs constantly handing the strike to his more aggressive partner. He completed his 46th IPL fifty in the process with a flick towards the deep mid-wicket in the 14th over. It was also his ninth fifty in a row against KXIP. At this point, Bairstow was 81 reflecting on the carnage he caused as the duo had contributed 26 runs each during the first six overs.
At 160 for no loss in 15 overs, SRH were looking to bat KXIP out of the game. However, there was room left for the bowlers to stage a fightback. Ravi Bishnoi ended KXIP's long drought of a wicket dismissing both Warner and Bairstow in the 16th over of the innings. The youngster began the death overs’ phase by inducing a mistimed lofted shot from Warner taken safely by Glenn Maxwell at the long-on boundary. Two dot balls later, he stopped Jonny Bairstow from getting to his 100 by trapping the right-hander on his pads. Adjudged not-out by the on-field umpire, Bairstow was given out on the review for 97.
Another youngster, Arshdeep Singh further dented SRH’s chances of a huge total dismissing Manish Pandey with a caught and bowled. The wickets kept falling as Bishnoi grabbed a three-wicket haul. A 10-ball 24-run stand between Kane Williamson and Abhishek Sharma pushed SRH’s total to 201.
In reply, KXIP’s run chase began on a disastrous note. Mayank Agarwal found himself run-out in a terrible mix-up with Rahul for which he can blame his captain. With the nucleus of their batting broken - the opening duo of Mayank and Rahul- the chase was always going to be a tough ask. Prabhsimran Singh, playing his first game of the season, middled the ball straight to Priyam Garg at cover in the fifth over.
The early wickets sent Rahul into a subdued batting approach. The KXIP skipper trudged to 11 off 16 balls before holding out at deep square-leg off Abhishek’s left-arm finger spin in the seventh over. It is Rahul’s only knock in IPL 2020 thus far when he failed to clear the fence even once.
Rahul’s departure could be the sucker punch to KXIP’s chase but Pooran soon instilled life into their innings cracking four gigantic sixes in the ninth over of the innings. Pulling the required run-rate back into the affordable territory, he destroyed Abdul Samad’s leg-spin for 28 runs in the over and completed a 17-ball fifty, the quickest of the season.
The massive over also allowed Maxwell to get his eye in. However, he managed only 7 off 12 balls in a partnership of 47 runs from 26 balls. His stay at the crease was ended by an outstanding piece of fielding by Garg who hit the timber from the tough angle which gave him only one stump to aim at. Mandeep Singh, batting at six tonight, was castled by a beautiful googly by Rashid Khan which turned miles to rattle into his stumps.
The faulty XI
The absence of Chris Jordan from the XI meant KXIP went into the game without any all-rounder. Mujeeb came in at seven and the run chase rested completely on Pooran’s shoulders.
Rashid came to complete his spell in the 15th over with the motive of dismissing Pooran - the only batsman left in the game. In a perplexing effort, Pooran rejected a single on the fourth ball of the over. That was probably the only thing Pooran got wrong in his knock as Rashid snaffled his wicket off the next delivery. With the prospects of the chase done and dusted, Rashid added salt to the opposition’s wounds sending Shami back for a golden duck, thus ending his spell (3/12) with a double wicket maiden. T Natarajan finished off the proceedings pouching the tailenders - Cottrell and Arshdeep - completing a thumping victory for SRH.
Losing their fourth game in a row and third by a significant margin, KXIP is firmly placed at the last spot with a negative net run-rate. Meanwhile, SRH have risen themselves to the third spot.