Kings XI Punjab 188 for 7 (Amla 65, Axar 34) beat Gujarat Lions 162
for 7 (Karthik 58*, Raina 32) by 26 runs
Rajkot, April 23
Kings XI Punjab won the critical moments of a T20, with both bat and ball, to defend 188 against Gujarat Lions, the 11th total successfully defended this season in 26 matches and Kings XI’s first. Hashim Amla followed up his century in the previous game with another knock laden with timing and placement. His 40-ball 65 laid a strong platform for Kings XI’s middle order, and Axar Patel put the finishing touches on the innings with a quickfire 34. Axar also took two wickets, off Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith.
KC Cariappa and Mohit Sharma were Kings XI’s standout bowlers, taking a combined three wickets, but also conceding just 49 runs in eight overs. Dinesh Karthik ran out of batting partners, his gritty, unbeaten 58 in vain.
An approach to keep going
In the last match against Mumbai Indians, Kings XI scored 198 and the target was hunted down with 27 balls to spare. Early signs in Rajkot indicated the pitch was even for batting and the boundaries were pulled in. Kings XI, it seemed, felt they needed at least a similar score.
Amla laid down anchor, but was still scoring at a strike rate in excess of 150. Shaun Marsh was brash in his approach, looking to find the boundary with almost every ball. Kings XI’s hard approach through the middle overs was evident when Glenn Maxwell chose to sweep and reverse sweep Ravindra Jadeja – he was lbw after missing a reverse lap – soon after Hashim Amla’s wicket.
A proper cameo
Axar has shown impressive hitting ability in this IPL already. So, it wasn’t a surprise when he was promoted ahead of Wriddhiman Saha in the closing overs. Sticking to his strengths, he was particularly productive in the arc between long-off and midwicket. He smashed Dwayne Smith for two sixes and a four in the penultimate over to finish with a 17-ball 34.
No benefit of doubt in soft signals
The soft signal from an on-field umpire is not a defining decision, but it’s a crucial call.It’s the equivalent of the DRS’ umpire’s call for whether a ball has carried or not. When Aaron Finch drove Mohit Sharma low to cover, Marcus Stoinis felt he had taken the catch but wasn’t entirely sure.
If there was any doubt, the soft signal should have been not out, but umpire Anil Chaudhary seemed confident it had carried, despite the fielder’s hesitation. Replays, like they usually are for such decisions, were inconclusive, which meant the third umpire had no grounds to overturn the decision.
Chipping catches and lackadaisical lbws
Lions’ batsmen were hardly done in by exceptional bowling. In any conditions, a chase in excess of 180 gets increasingly harder by losing wickets. Lions were found well short via some loose strokes.
First, Brendon McCullum missed a full toss from Sandeep Sharma. Then, Suresh Raina pulled Axar Patel to deep midwicket. He didn’t go through with his stroke nor did he keep it down. Dwayne Smith, too, mis-timed a lofted drive to long-off. The chances of success of both strokes were considerably low because they didn’t try to place the ball either side of the fielder, disallowing themselves a fail-safe if their shots were mis-timed. Suddenly, Lions’ most efficient resources were wastefully spent.