The IPL’s fastest ever fifty by KL Rahul resulted in Kings XI Punjab getting their campaign underway in brilliant fashion with a six-wicket over Delhi Daredevils in Mohali today. Rahul’s Karnataka teammate, Karun Nair, also slammed a half-century to make matters too easy for the hosts.
Newly-appointed Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin elected to field first under warm and breezy conditions at the PCA Stadium in Mohali and the hosts handed an IPL debut to 17-year old Mujeeb ur Rahman ahead of Chris Gayle, which meant that the Afghanistan offspinner became the youngest player to appear in the league. On the other hand, Delhi Daredevils, missing Glenn Maxwell, went with Colin Munro, Daniel Christian, Chris Morris and Trent Boult as their overseas players.
Disciplined Punjab bowlers nullify Gambhir’s valiant half-century
Given the nature of the Mohali track, it was supposed to be a pacer-friendly wicket, but to everyone’s surprise, Ashwin opened the bowling for the team and managed to extract some turn off the surface. Mujeeb also understood that the small patches were enough for him to deceive the batsmen and kept on bowling at that specific length which resulted in Colin Munro being trapped in front when DD were on 12. After that, though Gambhir held up one end with aplomb, he couldn’t find support from Shreyas Iyer and Vijay Shankar as the team reduced to 77/3 in 10 overs, and he was joined by youngster Pant. The good length strangulation also didn’t allow the Delhi batsmen to open their arms and eventually, it all boiled down to how Rishabh Pant and Gambhir would react to the situation. While the latter was accumulating runs steadily, Pant played a short cameo of 28 runs to set up the base for a good total. However, the lower order batsmen struggled to build on that momentum and after Gambhir’s dismissal, the hosts took the initiative in the game to reduce Delhi to 166/7 in 20 overs.
Rahul, Nair guide Punjab home
When Preity Zinta kept on raising the paddle to secure the services of KL Rahul, she knew that she was going to buy a big fish who could really help the team. A mediocre show as a keeper notwithstanding, he was all but confident and if there was any doubt, he smashed every bowler who took an attempt at him to complete the fastest 50 in the IPL in the third over itself. However, his stay in the crease was shortened as he was dismissed by Trent Boult. But the team was well on course to achieve the target with Yuvraj Singh and Karun Nair at the crease. The latter was particularly aggressive in his approach and made his intent clear by hitting a four on the bottom-hand off the first ball he faced. Although Yuvraj got out after scoring a struggling 12 off 22 balls, Miller played second fiddle to Nair, who was batting like a dream. Although Nair failed to add any score to his tally after his half-century, the game had become a formality by then, and Marcus Stoinis hit a four and then picked up a single to give Punjab a six-wicket win.