IPL 2014: Kings XI Punjab playing like the real kings
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) chased down a mammoth 206 for victory with ridiculous ease against the Sun Risers Hyderabad(SRH),once again living up to their reputation of being the most explosive batting line-up in this year’s IPL. Match after match, they have bulldozed opponents and have made huge targets and impressive bowling line-ups look ordinary.
The manner in which they’ve played so far pits them as clear favourites to win the title this year. Though their bowling has looked pedestrian at times,with the batting armoury they have they’ve always made up for an ordinary effort from their bowlers. With a calm,composed captain in George Bailey,a solid backroom support and clever buys at the auction this year, KXIP looked solid on paper and started as one of the favourites at the start of the tournament. But it has been frequently seen that teams which looked solid on paper have faltered miserably. But this has not been the case with KXIP. The sheer dominance with which they have performed this season so far has left most teams sweating at the prospect of having to play against them. Mitchell Johnson had earlier mentioned that they are a team in which the role of each player is clearly defined. This certainly seems to be helping the players to be mentally prepared as they clearly know what is expected of each and every one of them. Sehwag, free from captaincy duties this year seems to be enjoying his role in the team and has looked the closest to the Sehwag who terrorized bowlers when he was at the peak of his game. His contributions, though statistically not too noticeable, have had an impact in almost each game, crashing away to quick 30s in quick time which has often laid the platform for the explosive batsmen that follow. Coming to their game against SRH, SRH batting first found an unlikely hero in Naman Ojha who made 71 with 7 sixes and some handsome contributions from Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner as they posted a formidable 205 runs on the board. Most pundits knew that if there was one team that could chase down such a total it was KXIP, given the red hot form of their foreign recruits Glenn Maxwell and David Miller. But what ensued was a brutal attack by their lesser-known Indian batsmen in the form of Wriddhiman Saha (54 off 26) and Manan Vohra who launched a brutal attack on world class bowlers like Dale Steyn(4-0-51-0) and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar(3.4-0-38-0) as they raced to 50 off just 3.2 overs. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar reclaimed the purple cap with the scalp of Sehwag in his first over. The powerplay had yielded 86 and they had lost just the one wicket in the form of Sehwag (dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar). From their approach, it was evident that they had been given the license to go out all guns blazing right from ball one, which they clearly seemed to enjoy. Reputations mattered little as both players tore into the SRH attack, as KXIP raced to the fastest team 100 in IPL history. The timing of Saha’s fall was almost perfect as Maxwell walked in and immediately got into his stride smashing 3 sixes off the first 5 balls he faced. Within the next few overs, KXIP raced to the fastest team 150 in IPL history ,while Manan Vohra was unlucky to be dismissed for a catchy 47 off 20 balls. But by then, he had more or less justified his team’s decision to retain him before this year’s player auctions. Maxwell made the best use of his luck (dismissed off a no ball twice in the competition, both against SRH) and form as he raced to 43 from just 22 balls. However, things just got just a touch shaky after Maxwell’s dismissal as Bailey and Miller (24 off 24) struggled to get the ball away. But then, the tension was only short-lived as Bailey (35 off 19) virtually sealed the game with 2 fours and 2 sixes off Dale Steyn in the 18th over of the innings. The 19th over was just a mere formality as only 4 runs were required for a win and they sealed it with 8 balls to spare, thus reclaiming the top spot in the points table with 8 wins from 10 matches and a far superior run rate compared to the Chennai Super Kings who are at 2nd position with the same number of wins.