By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
DUBAI: Shikhar Dhawan’s record back-to-back hundreds went in vain as Kings XI Punjab swung back into contention with a hat-trick of victories in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. Looked down and out just a week ago with just two points from seven matches, KXIP keep their chances alive as far as qualifying for the play-offs is concerned.
With this fourth win, KXIP now have eight points from ten matches and jumped to the fifth spot in the standings. The comfortable five-wicket victory against Delhi Capitals also helped them settle the scores with their rivals. In the first leg, DC had edged out KXIP in the first Super Over of the season. Despite the defeat, DC remained on top of the table with 14 points.
Chasing a challenging target of 165, KXIP crossed the finish-line with an over to spare, much to the cheer of their fans as most of the team’s earlier matches went to the wire. For the first time in the season, KXIP won without much contribution from their skipper KL Rahul (15) and Mayank Agarwal (5).
Instead, foreign recruits Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell and Chris Gayle did the bulk of the job for their team. Pooran (53: 28 balls, 6×4, 3×6) hit a timely half-century while brisk knocks from Gayle (29: 13 balls, 3×4, 2×6) and Maxwell (32: 24 balls, 3×4) ensured a fine win for KXIP.
After the departures of these top-order batsmen, all-rounders Deepak Hooda and James Neeshan did the formality in the penultimate over. Kagiso Rabada once again emerged as the most successful bowler with 2 for 27 but could not prevent the defeat of Dc.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan created a record as he became the first player to score back-to-back IPL centuries when he slammed an unbeaten 106. The 34-year-old left-hander took 57 balls to reach the landmark. He carried his bat once again to finish with undefeated 106 off 61 deliveries. ‘The Gabbar’ belted 12 fours and three towering sixes to mid-wicket fence to help Delhi Capitals post a challenging total of 164 for 5. Before this match, Dhawan had scored a century against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday.
Dhawan also joined IPL’s 5000-run club, which already has Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and David Warner.
Mohammed Shami, who bowled brilliantly in the Super Over against Mumbai Indians in the previous outing, continued his fine form with the ball to claim 2 for 28. James Neesham, Glenn Maxwell and Murugan Ashwin chipped in with a wicket each.
On Wednesday, Royal Challengers Bangalore will lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders at Abu Dhabi.
Brief scores: Delhi Capitals 164 for 5 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 106 not out, Shreyas Iyer 14, Rishabh Pant 14, Shimron Hetmyer 10; Mohammed Shami 2-28, James Neesham 1-17, Glenn Maxwell 1-31, Murugan Ashwin 1-33) lost to Kings XI Punjab 167 for 5 in 19 overs (Nicholas Pooran 53, Glenn Maxwell 32, Chris Gayle 29, KL Rahul 15, Deepak Hooda 15 not out, James Neesham 10 not out; Kagiso Rabada 2-27, Axar Patel 1-27, R Ashwin 1-27) by 5 wickets. Man-of-the-match: Shikhar Dhawan (DC).