Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2017, Mohali
A sensational display of end-overs bowling from Mohit Sharma and strangulation by legspin from Rahul Tewatia, playing his first game this season, helped apply the choke on Kolkata Knight Riders. By securing one of three wins they needed, Kings XI lived to fight another day.
In what was an engaging last five overs off which Knight Riders needed just 50, Mohit brought out all his slower variations – the knuckleball, back-of-the-hand slower deliveries and offcutters – and delivered them with precision to deny Chris Lynn, who wiped out half of Knight Riders’ 168-run target off just 52 balls, and Manish Pandey. The pair’s dismissal off successive deliveries off the 18th over helped close out a tight game, with the Sharmas – Mohit and Sandeep – defending 29 off the 12 deliveries to ensure three Playoff spots were still up for grabs.
Knight Riders’ productive first six
Kings XI made four changes, two of those being forced. One of them – Hashim Amla – had just smashed a 60-ball 104, his second century of the season, in the previous game. Even so, the rest of the batsmen stuttered as they finished with just 189 when they should’ve posted 210. Now, without Amla, who along with David Miller was unavailable because of national duty, Kings XI needed a robust beginning from the openers. Manan Vohra, who had earlier in the tournament shunted up and down the order to accommodate both Shaun Marsh and Martin Guptill, sparkled briefly, but his dismissal brought about a restrained approach. The first six overs fetched just 41 for the loss of the openers. Knight Riders had begun well.
Maxwell, Saha keep the innings alive
On a surface where the ball was deviating just about enough to keep the medium-pacers interested, Chris Woakes and Colin de Grandhomme bowled six overs in tandem, conceding just 22 off the first four immediately after the Powerplay. Kings XI limped to 63 for 3 in the first half. They went 17 deliveries without a boundary after Shaun Marsh’s dismissal in the ninth over, before Maxwell cut loose – hitting de Grandhomme for two successive sixes off legitimate deliveries to trigger a surge. Maxwell’s picking of lengths was impressive as he played the pull effectively against the pacers. Wriddhiman Saha, on 10 off 17 at one stage, pinched crucial boundaries to move to a run-a-ball 26. At 115 for 3 with five to play, Kings XI needed big back five overs. But they were denied.
Kuldeep Yadav, returning in place of Piyush Chawla, was rewarded for his willingness to flight the ball as he had Maxwell caught at wide long-off in an attempt to hit him for a third successive six. In his next over, he had Saha stumped after being biffed across the line one ball earlier. A cameo from Rahul Tewatia lifted them to 167, not underwhelming but not match-winning either.
Narine tees off, Lynn consolidates
Two quiet men, who don’t believe in intimidating opponents with words, let their blades talk. Sunil Narine’s no-frills approach fetched him a four fours in a 10-ball 18. Lynn, playing in only his second game after returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out for three weeks, didn’t show signs of “not being a 100 percent” as he revealed during a flash interview. Time and again, he was tested against the short ball, only for the deep midwicket and wide long-on boundaries to be peppered with regularity.
The best shot of his knock – a flat-batted swat off Matt Henry which he fetched from outside off – showed how brutally effective he can be even if not at full tilt. Yet, this wasn’t as brutal a knock as the one against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Yet, by bringing up a half-century off just 29 deliveries, Lynn ensured Gautam Gambhir’s struggle against spin – he scratched around 17 deliveries for 8 before mistiming a slog to deep midwicket – didn’t deeply disturb the asking rate.
Tewatia spins a web
One ball after sending back Gambhir, Rahul Tewatia, playing his first game this season, saw off Robin Uthappa, but to not give any credit to Axar Patel would be doing injustice to his efforts. Running around from straight deep midwicket, he covered quick ground before putting in a dive to catch the dipping slog sweep inches from the ground near deep square leg. Now, the choke was on. Axar followed it up by conceding just three in his next over. The spinners – Tewatia along with Axar Patel and Swapnil Singh – at that stage had combined figures of 2 for 30 off six overs. Knight Riders needed 86 off 54 balls.
Maxwell’s punt on Mohit pays off
By leaving two overs of Mohit in the last five, Maxwell gambled. Considering the form Lynn was in, it was a tough proposition. But the pressure applied by the spinners left Knight Riders with a steep task against a bowler, who justified the INR 6.5 crore investment, at a crunch moment when the game was on the line and Kings XI’s chances of staying alive was hanging by a thread. That he bowled just three overs may have been a decision Kings XI could have rued, but on the night, it was his experience that prevailed. (ESPNCricinfo)
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo