IPL 2015The character of a 20-20 game is such that its results could be dictated by a single individual performance. Cricketers like Brendon McCullum, AB de Villiers, Adam Gilchrist and Chris Gayle have demonstrated that even in 50-over formats. One explosive innings is enough to change the result. Kings XI Punjab rose to a very high level last season and even played the final solely because one man; Glenn Maxwell consistently exploded with his bat and made the essential difference. Because Maxwell hasn’t done well this season, KXIP’s scores have been mediocre. Another man, who complemented Maxwell wonderfully in IPL-7, was Shaun Marsh. Until KXIP’s fifth match against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, Marsh has simply been warming the benches. He came into the team because regular captain George Bailey had a shoulder injury. While Maxwell fell yet again, Marsh’s performance was the key in Punjab’s thrilling victory in the 18th match of IPL-8. After helping his team reach 191 and tie the game with table-toppers Rajasthan Royals, Marsh was equally effective in the Super Over and rightfully earned the Player-of-the-Match award.

Skipper George Bailey could not play for Kings Eleven Punjab because of injury and Virender Sehwag deputized for him. Sehwag won the toss and asked Rajasthan Royals to bat first. Royals had their usual confident opening start with Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson collecting 95 for the first wicket. Despite Rahane finishing with a 54-ball 74 and Watson contributing 45 off 35, RR’s start was relatively slower. However, later order RR batsmen stepped up the rate of scoring with small cameos. Deepak Hooda made 19 off 9; Karun Nair scored 25 from 13; and Stuart Binny made 12 off 4 and in 20 overs the Royals piled up an extremely commendable 191/6.

Coming out to chase 192 for victory, KXIP lost Sehwag, who was run out to a brilliant direct through from Steve Smith. In the 7th over, Murali Vijay also perished to another run out and when Maxwell top-edged a ball from Rahul Tewatia, KXIP were in trouble at 59 for 3 in the ninth over. Maxwell’s strings of failure are telling on KXIP this season. Last time Maxwell scored a fifty was 13 IPL innings ago, when he had made 90 off 38 against CSK on May 7, 2014. Just when the 192-run chase looked like slipping away, Shaun Marsh showed his mettle. With David Miller for company, he helped in adding 58 in 35 balls for the fourth wicket. Royals, who had almost taken their sixth consecutive victory for granted, got alarmed. After Marsh departed, Miller found the company of Wriddhiman Saha, Mitchell Johnson and Axar Patel, all of whom produced small but useful cameos. With Axar Patel’s last-ball four, Kings XI leveled the scores and the decision rested on the ensuing super over.

Marsh came out with David Miller but the first ball from Chris Morris saw Miller off as the batsman received it on his pad and was declared LBW. Maxwell was the new man and instead of trying any heroics, he scored a single so that Marsh could take the strike. Marsh justified the faith rested on him and banged Morris for three successive fours. The next ball was a dot-ball but off the last, Marsh got run-out in trying to steal two runs. KXIP finished with 15/2.

For the Royals, Shane Watson and James Faulkner came as openers but Watson was bowled by Mitchell Johnson off the very first ball. Steve Smith joined Faulkner even as Johnson yielded a no-ball and a four to Smith. But Smith and Faulkner could only manage two more single and once Faulkner was run out next ball, it was all over. Royals unbeaten run was brought to an end by Shaun Marsh’s superlative performance and he was adjudged as the Player of the Match.