Cricket

Rahul holds firm, guides Kings home in tense finish

Kings XI Punjab returned to home comfort and winnings ways, leapfrogging to the third spot in the table with a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Monday, despite a late mini-collapse in a below-par chase of 151.

The host appeared to have learnt its lessons in pacing the chase, Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul ensuring there would be no hiccups at the finish a second time.

The duo did not let the early dismissal of Chris Gayle affect the scoring rate, making individual half-centuries and adding 114 for the second wicket to put the host in control. The only difference was the routes they took — Rahul preferring strokes along the ground and Mayank going the aerial way.

They seemed to be playing on a different pitch from what the SRH batsmen had struggled on, and the conditions did not make it any easier for the visitors. Dew helped the ball come on to the bat better and race to the boundary faster.

Sunrisers’ fumbles in the field only compounded the problems, in particular the sitter dropped by Yusuf Pathan off Mayank with the batsman on 42 and Kings needing 37 for victory. Though the hosts lost three wickets in the final three overs for 16 runs, the Rahul-Mayank stand had done enough.

Uncharacteristic

Earlier, it was an uncharacteristically slow knock by Warner, who remained unbeaten on 70 with six hits to the boundary and one over it. In fact, the Sunrisers innings had a grand total of two sixes — the other one by Deepak Hooda off the last ball of the innings. Hooda’s 14 runs off the final three deliveries saw Sunrisers touch 150.

The presence of Warner did give Sunrisers the anchor it needed after losing Jonny Bairstow in the second over. The middle-order, which had crumbled in the previous game against Mumbai Indians, made amends. Vijay Shankar didn’t attempt flashy shots, instead favouring a strenuous partnership. Manish Pandey, mixing caution with aggression, kept the scoreboard ticking.

However, at 50 for one in 10 overs, R. Ashwin’s decision to put Sunrisers in looked right. Warner struggled to find the gaps and the pitch stayed slow and low, making strokeplay difficult. His 50 off 49 balls was his slowest IPL half-century.

Vijay Shankar nicked Ashwin to Rahul in the 11th over and Mohd. Nabi was run out by the KXIP skipper who deflected a shot from Warner to the stumps. The Afghanistan player had backed off almost too far down the pitch. It looked like the Sunrisers bowlers wouldn’t have enough to defend, and that’s exactly what happened.

Source: thehindu.com

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