KL Rahul's third fifty in four games gave Kings XI Punjab a thrilling win against Sunrisers Hyderabad and it propelled them to third spot in the table. (Image credit: Twitter)
KL Rahul blasted his third fifty in four games and shared a partnership of 114 for the second wicket with Mayank Agarwal, who blasted 50 off 40 balls. With 19 runs needed off 17 balls, Kings XI Punjab were on course for a convincing win. However, Mohali has the habit of churning out a thriller when it is least expected. Sandeep Sharma got two wickets, first Agarwal for 55 and then David Miller for 1. Siddarth Kaul, who was expensive for the entire match, gave away just five runs and got the wicket of Mandeep Singh for 2. With 11 runs needed off the last over bowled by Mohammad Nabi, Sam Curran hit a couple of twos and the equation to six off three balls. Rahul showed his composure and blasted a full, flat ball down to long off for a boundary and on the next ball, a misfield by David Warner at long on allowed Kings XI Punjab to register a six-wicket win against Sunrisers Hyderabad with one ball to spare at the IS Bindra stadium in Mohali on Monday.
Rahul’s consistency and his ability to bat with calmness and take the team over the finish line has put him in a good stead, with the Indian team selection for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be held on April 15. With the No.4 spot up for grabs and with Ambati Rayudu struggling, Rahul has given the right signals that he deserves the spot for the World Cup in what was a wonderful exhibition of batting.
Chasing 151, Chris Gayle gave Kings XI Punjab a fast start by hammering Sandeep for a boundary and launching Bhuvneshwar for a big six. However, Rashid Khan struck first ball as Gayle hit a lofted shot flat to long on where Deepak Hooda slid to his right and took a good catch.
Gayle’s departure brought the Karnataka duo of Rahul and Agarwal together and they consistently found the boundaries. With both batsmen having gotten their eye in, Kaul bore the brunt of the punishment in the 11th over when Agarwal and Rahul combined to smash 17 runs in the over. Rahul and Agarwal notched up their fifties with Kaul once again going for 13 runs. When Agarwal crossed 50, he upper-cut a short ball from Bhuvneshwar to deep point which was spilled by Yusuf Pathan and it seemed Sunrisers Hyderabad had given up. However, Bhuvneshwar's side showed their fighting spirit and dragged the contest till the last over.
That Sunrisers Hyderabad managed to score 150/4 owed to the brilliance of David Warner, who weathered the storm after Kings XI Punjab inserted Sunrisers in on a greenish wicket. Mujeeb Ur Rahman struck by removing Jonny Bairstow (1) and the discipline shown by the Kings XI Punjab bowlers resulted in only 27 runs in the powerplay. Vijay Shankar and Warner tried to revive the innings but when Ravichandran Ashwin removed Shankar for 26, Sunrisers Hyderabad were wobbling.
By the end of 14 overs, Sunrisers Hyderabad were staring at a below-par score but Warner broke the shackles by launching Mujeeb for a six and notching up his 39th fifty. The left-hander hammered two more boundaries off Mohammed Shami as the bowler leaked 12 runs. Ankit Rajpoot bowled a decent 18th over but Sam Curran conceded two fours in the 19th over.
With Manish Pandey (19) falling in the final over, Deepak Hooda blasted two fours and a six as Sunrisers reached a good score. However, the increasing dew meant that Sunrisers were some way off the par score but they had provided a good fight. With this win, Kings XI Punjab have moved to third spot with eight points.