Match No. 13 of the IPL saw another one-sided affair as the Kolkata Knight Riders swept aside the Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. The home team stay rooted to the bottom of the table with this loss.
It was obvious that whoever won the toss would choose to field and since Gautam Gambhir opted to bowl first, everything went right for the KKR. The visitors continued the trend by making it 12 wins out of 13 for the team batting second in this IPL.
There were several unforgettable moments in the match that don’t fade away, quite like the Axe signature range of body perfumes. Here are five of the best:
No need for Batman when you have Robin
Batman may take the headlines in the movies, but it is his sidekick, Robin, who does so on the cricket field. Robin Uthappa has been one of the most consistent players this IPL and it is his form which has helped KKR win three in four.
Against Kings XI Punjab, too, the wicket-keeper batsman was on form as he smacked 53 off just 28 balls. If you think it was an innings littered with brash shots, think again.
Uthappa did NOT hit a single six in the match, choosing to play without risk and opting to place and time his shots. With 9 fours, Uthappa played at a strike rate of almost 200 and left only after the result was secure.
Gambhir the captain
“It is important to not let your teammates see that you are nervous if you are the captain,” said Gautam Gambhir recently. His ice-cool temperament has reaped benefits as his team play without any fear, all thanks to the same approach taken by their captain.
Even if his team is losing or facing insurmountable odds, Gautam’s face is as serene as that of Gautama Buddha, his namesake. Against Punjab, he showed his capabilities as a batsman as well as a captain.
Playing an innings of 34 runs in 34 balls, he kept the scoreboard ticking, while he surprised Punjab by giving 7 bowlers the chance to bowl. Even dangerman, Andre Russell was given the ball only in the last over. It worked wonders though as the opposition could only manage 138.
Sunil Na-rains wickets!
If people thought that the batsmen have figured him out, they had another thing coming. The man from West Indies turned the ball both ways to the bewilderment of the batsmen and set his team for another victory.
He returned with figures of 2/22 in his quota of 4 overs and the fact that it could have been more shows how good he was on the night. He repaid the faith of his captain by getting the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha and the dangerous Glenn Maxwell.
Kolkata have one of the most dangerous and versatile bowling attacks with Narine supplementing Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla and Shakib Al Hasan. A nightmare for the opposition.
Punjab’s shining lights - Axar and Sahu
Young spinners Axar Patel and Pardeep Sahu did no harm to their reputation despite his team’s massive loss. The spin duo was a constant thorn in the KKR batting line-up, ensuring that they didn’t let the visitors finish the match off within 15 overs.
With figures of 2/19 in 3 overs, Axar, named as the Emerging Player of the Year in IPL 7, took the wickets of Shakib Al Hasan and Manish Pandey. Sahu, however, broke the strong opening partnership and got both the openers out. He returned with figures reading 2/18 in 4 overs.
The duo performed admirably on a pitch where the likes of Kyle Abbott, Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma failed to get anything from.
Top of the charts
Another day, another win for the team batting second. KKR won the toss and had everything going their way ever since. With 3 wins in 4, the Shah Rukh Khan-owned team is sitting pretty at the top and look unlikely to be dislodged any time soon.
They also have a healthy net run rate of +1.075, the highest of all teams in the tournament. Their only loss came at home to a Rohit Sharma-inspired Mumbai Indians. Apart from that blip, they’ve looked like genuine title challengers and it will be a massive surprise if they fail to qualify for the playoffs.
With title wins in 2012 and 2014, the team would be eager to continue the pattern and add 2016 to the list. And going by their form, who would bet against it.
Gautam Gambhir’s men have proved they are here to stay. Can anyone stop them?