RCB vs KXIP : And finally, Punjab hold the nerve!

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Punjab hold nerve to finally get through
Punjab hold nerve to finally get through.

11 needed of the last three overs with 9 wickets in hand, one would believe the match is fair and square in the bag. Not if you are a Kings XI Punjab fan though. It has been that kind of season for the Kings XI where they have found ways to lose from commanding positions. While they found themselves in one such mess back again, Pooran just about managed to clear the boundary off the last ball with one needed. That win would have finally settled some nerves.

 

Chahal’s miraculous last over springs in the thought of whether it was necessary to bowl Siraj in the 16th over instead of the leggie? Perhaps, it is not the most critical question the Royal Challengers Bangalore would be asking themselves after all. The demotion of AB De Villiers down the order in the first innings seemed uncalled for. And so did the decision to not bowl Sundar in the powerplay at all. While the team management would have surely thought much before chalking out either plans, it was one of those days when RCB’s gambles did not pay off.

ABD's demotion put too much pressure on Kohli as well
ABD’s demotion put too much pressure on Kohli as well

The gamble that perhaps paid off well for Kings XI Punjab on the other hand was that of getting Glenn Maxwell to bowl. The Aussie was impressive with the ball and despite not picking up a wicket, he kept the RCB top-order quiet for pretty long. The likes of Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi also bowled pretty well with the former making meticulous use of his googlies. They made scoring difficult for the RCB batsmen, possibly also prompting the decision to delay ABD. The only thing that went wrong with the Kings XI bowling was the 24-run last over from Shami. If not for that, the match would have been long done already.

Rahul, Gayle fifties guide Kings XI Punjab to 8-wicket win
The partnership that sealed the deal for Punjab.

The match also marked the return of the ‘Universe Boss’, Chris Gayle 10 months post his last appearance. Kings XI Punjab though, for only the 6th time in his T20 career saw Gayle bat at number 3. Unlike Bangalore, KXIP stuck with their winning formula and went in with the in-form duo of Rahul and Mayank up front. The two got them off to a brisk start, former remaining unbeaten on 61, setting up the tone for the T20’s greatest batsman to take stage. The ever-so-entertaining and confident 41 year old was watchful initially but soon got going hitting as many as 5 huge maximums, notching up yet another 50+ score due process. He also let everyone know of his arrival pointing at ‘The Boss’ sticker on his bat.

This match between Punjab and Bangalore is an example of why it is important to not play around with the winning formula. While Bangalore would likely go back and reassess their key decisions, Punjab would be glad to have found theirs today. They would also be hoping to win matches more convincingly from the next time around and not leave too much for the end. KL Rahul saying, “I am out of words.” after a win for once seems the most pleasing.

 

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