It eventually turned out to be a walk in the park for KXIP as they chased down a total of 149 with great ease. Royal Challengers Bangalore huffed and puffed to reach that total and they have AB de Villiers to thank for the same, as he came back from injury to score a scintillating 89 off just 46 balls with nine sixes.
Kedar Jadhav got a rough umpiring decision and that didn’t help matters on a two-paced pitch where no other RCB batsman could break the shackles. In contrast, KXIP got off to a fine start with Vohra scoring a 21-ball 34. Amla and Maxwell finished off the game in a canter adding 72 in just 38 balls to win the match in just 14.3 overs, giving their net run-rate a huge boost.
Here we look at some of the talking points of the match.
#1 Mr. 360’s blazing return
Indore is a home ground for the Kings XI Punjab, but looking at the way the crowd was chanting, ‘AB, AB’, one could have mistaken it to be the Chinnaswamy. And he didn’t disappoint, despite coming off an injury.
AB de Villiers walked in at No. 3 in the second over of the match and remained not-out right until the end. De Villiers scored 89 of the 148 runs that RCB posted having faced just 46 out of the 120 balls.
His strike-rate was 193.47, while all the other RCB batsmen had strike-rates below 100. The second highest score was Mandeep Singh’s 28. AB’s innings included a ferocious slog-scoop over cow-corner that was 97 meters long.
There was a wonderful lofted drive over long-off where he skipped down the track and then had to reach across the width of the pitch to connect with a wider delivery. There was an extra cover drive for a six too. In all, AB smashed nine sixes and three fours during his innings, Mohit Sharma getting the stick towards the end.
#2 Surprise decision at the toss
At the IPL, most teams choose to field first if they win the toss, considering most totals are chaseable. This is particularly the case for the 8 pm games where dew could make bowling difficult and batting easy during the second innings.
So it came as a huge surprise when Shane Watson won the toss and chose to bat first. The pitch was difficult to bat on and only AB seemed even remotely comfortable on the pitch. Compared to that, batting looked slightly easier in the second innings, although credit must be given where it is due, to the batting quality of Manan Vohra first and later, Hashim Amla and Glenn Maxwell.
The chase of 149 was made to look like a walk in the park especially with the flurry of sixes that helped KXIP finish the match in a hurry. One wonders, in hindsight, if RCB should have chosen to bat second, but allowance has to be made for the fact that Watson wasn’t exactly confident of his batting line-up.
#3 Dropped catches
Two dropped catches by RCB ensured they never had a chance to fight back against KXIP. When defending a low total as RCB were, it is imperative that the fielding team picks up every opportunity that comes their way, even the half-chances. But RCB dropped two regulation catches.
The first was by Stanlake, who dropped Hashim Amla off the bowling of Tymal Mills. Amla pulled and mistimed one straight to deep fine leg, but the ball burst through Stanlake’s palms. To make matters worse, the ball went over the boundary for a six. Amla was on 20 at that point. He eventually remained unbeaten till the end scoring 58* off just 38 balls, anchoring the chase beautifully.
The wicket could also have given Mills a spring in his step so early in the innings. The second drop was by Mandeep Singh, shutting down any chances for RCB to make a comeback. KXIP were 107 for 2 when Maxwell was dropped at point off the bowling of Watson. The Aussie was on 13 at that stage and finished with 43 off just 22 balls with four sixes and three fours.
In contrast to that, for KXIP, Wriddhiman Saha, a brilliant keeper, took a stunning catch to break the AB-Mandeep partnership.
#4 Axar Patel’s miserly spell
KXIP’s left-arm spinner opened the bowling with the new ball. That shows how much Maxwell trusts his frontline spinner. Axar didn’t disappoint, registering figures of 4-0-12-1. He got Shane Watson in his very first over as the latter chopped a ball onto his stumps.
Patel returned again to bowl three tight overs on the trot in the 11th, 13th and 15th. His spell ensured RCB never got away despite having two set batsmen at one stage. It is also the pressure created by his bowling that led Mandeep to try and attack Varun Aaron, losing his wicket in the process.
On a pitch that was slightly difficult to bat on, Axar didn’t experiment too much and just bowled a steady line, a little flatter at a teasing length. AB de Villiers hit nine sixes in the innings and eight of them came after Patel finished his spell, showing how admirable the latter’s control was. It comes as no surprise that Patel was the Player of the Match.
#5 Kings XI Punjab’s faith in foreign batters pays off
Kings XI Punjab have placed their trust in foreign batters and it has paid off so far. Glenn Maxwell is showing the kind of form that helped KXIP reach the finals of the IPL couple of seasons back.
Hashim Amla showed his class tonight with an unbeaten half-century. David Miller and Marcus Stonis are still waiting in the wings. Manan Vohra can learn a lot from the foreign batters and it will be a good experience for him.
Add to it the fact that captaincy is probably having a positive effect on Maxwell’s batting and KXIP have a lot to be positive about. Their bowling plans were executed perfectly too on a two-paced pitch, showing how the team is probably expecting the Indian bowlers to restrict opponents and the foreign batters to get the big totals. It might well work this season!