Rajkot: Gujarat Lions, who won their last two matches, suffered a 23-run defeat yesterday at the hands of Kings XI Punjab.
This is the Lions’ second defeat in eight matches and the Kings’ second win in seven outings. The victory may have vindicated the decision of the Kings’ management to replace captain David Miller with Murali Vijay. And Vijay played a captain’s innings of 55 (41 balls, 6x4), which turned out to be a match-winning effort.
Kings XI Punjab Axar Patel (R) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Gujarat Lions batsman Dwayne Bravo during the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab at The Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on May 1. Pic/AFP
Apart from Vijay, the other architects of the Kings’ success were left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who bagged a hat-trick to finish with dream figures of 4-0-21-4, and medium-pacer Mohit Sharma, who took 3 for 32 in 4 overs.
Collective effort: Vijay
“Our bowlers did a great job and defended the total. There was something in the wicket, which was a bit slow, for the bowlers to exploit. Axar bowled well and was richly rewarded, but Mohit Sharma bowled equally well, so you can’t single out a particular player. It was a successful, collective effort,” said Vijay.
Kings XI Punjab captain Murali Vijay (R) plays a shot enroute his fifty against Gujarat Lions. Pic/AFP
Chasing a target of 155 on an easy-looking pitch, the Lions made 131 for 9 in 20 overs. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals after Mohit Sharma bowled the dangerman Brendon McCullum for one off the 10th ball of the innings. He struck again and bowled Suresh Raina for 18. It was a blow which the Lions did not recover from.
Patel hit the Lions like a cyclone in his second over, devouring Dwayne Smith for 15 (18 balls, 1x4, 1x6) off the third ball and Dinesh Karthik (11) and Dwayne Bravo (0) off the fifth and sixth deliveries respectively. He was immediately removed from the attack. He completed his hat-trick by dismissing Ravindra Jadeja (11) off the very first ball of his fresh over.
Although James Faulkner (32 off 27 balls, 3x4) and Ishant Kishan (27 off 24 balls, 3x4) tried hard, the Lions fell 24 runs short of the target.
Earlier, justifying their captain’s decision to bowl first, the Gujarat Lions bowlers bowled out the Kings for 154 in 19.5 overs. But for the new captain Vijay’s half-century, the Kings would not have managed to post a challenging score.
Maybe, the Kings were done in as much by the severe Rajkot heat. The wrecker-in-chief was 20-year old left-arm spinner Shivil Kaushik, who finished with impressive figures of 4-0-20-3 in only his second big Twenty20 match of his career. Kaushik, who has a special gift to bowl the deceptive Chinaman, is yet to play a first-class game or a one-dayer. But the Kings found him simply too beguiling.
After Ravindra Jadeja broke the first-wicket stand of 65 between Vijay and Marcus Stoinis (27), it was the Kaushik charisma all the way. He removed Shaun Marsh (1), caught by Raina in the covers, and then consumed Glenn Maxwell (0) off the very next delivery, caught behind by Karthik. Five balls and three runs later, Gurkeerat Singh was run out for 0.
Within eight runs, the Kings lost four crucial wickets. At the score of 100 Kaushik delivered a paralysing coup de grace when he had the well-set Vijay caught by Bravo at deep-midwicket. Though he made 31 (27 balls, 2x4), Miller never looked convincing. “I was a bit disappointed when I went wicketless in my last match. So I was determined to make up for that,” said Kaushik.
Kings XI Punjab 154 in 19.5 overs (Murali Vijay 55; Shivil Kaushik 3-20) beat Gujarat Lions 131-9 (James Faulkner 32; Axar Patel 4-21, Mohit Sharma 3-32) by 23 runs