Kolkata Knight Riders’ baffling approach to the game, where lack of clarity took the centre stage, left them in a position to tussle with NRR for a spot in the play-offs. Meanwhile, smart Kings XI Punjab rode the Gayle-storm and a stunning Shami spell up front to secure a comfortable 8-wicket win.
KKR 7/10 - (54/3) This was a powerplay to forget for KKR with Mohammed Shami wrecking havoc up front. KKR batsmen were too early for the shots, lacked the desired footwork to counter the pacer’s away movement and seriously lacked intent to negotiate Glenn Maxwell. Fair play to Shubman Gill for taking the attack on Shami and bringing sanity to their innings in the last couple of overs.
KXIP 6/10- (36/0) The small target might’ve been playing in Rahul and Mandeep’s head but what was Mandeep doing seriously? He was 2 off 10 at one point and took an eternity to get going. Rahul was not sparkling either, scoring comfortably as has been the case in the IPL in the last couple of years.
Middle overs maneuvering
KKR 3/10-(60/3) In small Sharjah, you always need to counter-attack and that was what Gill and Morgan did at the beginning of this phase. But soon enough that fizzled out, thanks to Ravi Bishnoi and his alarming frequency to dismiss left-handers. That phase was a tale of two halves - the second of which pegged them back drastically.
KXIP 7/10- (79/1) - Punjab knew that the target was not far ahead but kudos to Chris Gayle for the timely hits to change the complexion of the game. It is so heartening to see him evolving so much at this age and he was supported by a classy knock from Mandeep Singh, who paid a rich tribute to his father, who passed away last week, after hitting an important half-century. Punjab owned the phase, literally.
KXIP 8/10 - (35/3) Conceding just 35 runs in the last five overs at Sharjah is a thing of achievement and something that would make Punjab bowlers proud who have made quite a bad reputation for themselves this IPL. Line and lengths were precious and didn’t let KKR lower-order crack the code that easily.
KKR 3/10- It was almost over by then but KKR management will have a lot to introspect on and their plans which made no sense to the naked eye. Easy to criticise bowlers when a team loses by nine wickets but this was a game lost long before, just to bring that famous MS Dhoni: The Untold Story analogy.
Mohammed Shami’s Test match length to success
With the impending Test series Down Under, it seemed Mohammed Shami took the match as a preparation for the same. He came round the wicket, took the puff of the ball as if it was a cherry and landed full-length balls to constantly take it away from the batsmen. That gifted him a couple of wickets in the proper Test match banner when the batsmen were beaten on the forward defense as if it was the first day of a Test match in England. Class, Shami, Class!
KKR are more muddled than CSK - in their intent and approach
If KKR qualify for the playoffs, it would mostly be because of other team’s dramatic performances than their own quality. And that's a fact that KKR shouldn’t shy away from accepting. The batting order is muddled, spots have changed for no reason, players unsure about their role and senior players playing reckless shots. The captain, a world cup winner at that, was bringing in Lockie Ferguson in the 11th over and seemed bereft of ideas. It’s all happening for KKR this season and justifying the same would leave the head scratching. The hopes are hanging now by a thread and they should realise the same before it’s too late.
How good were Punjab with their leg-spin
Here is a tiny bit of statistics for you. KXIP leg-spinners, primarily Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin, have picked as many as 21 wickets this IPL at 19 balls per dismissal. That is some dominance for the fact that they have given away only 7.29 runs when they have been operating, bringing a semblance to the side that had been robbed by their death bowlers. You can give credit to Anil Kumble, a giant in his own right, but the novelty and hard work that the duo brought to their game was really hard to ignore.
You could hardly stand a chance if you are a top-heavy side and still lose three wickets for 10 runs. KKR were left to rue their careless approach up front and even though there was a bit of hope thanks to the Morgan-Gill partnership, there was no cushion thus after, resulting in a shambolic performance that might hurt their play-off chances drastically.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Average
In Sharjah, you always expect a run-fest but not today. There were patches in which you would’ve been entertained but the way most KKR batsmen threw their wicket away to average balls didn’t help the cause. Not something you would’ve wanted on a day like this.