Fans call this match “The Northern Derby”. I would call it a match between 2 future captains of Indian cricket. KL Rahul has already shown flashes of his brilliant leadership in a couple of T20 matches and Iyer has just matured beyond his years, after taking on the leadership role with the Mumbai State team and Delhi Capitals. At some point in time in the next 5 years, either of these 2 young lads is slated to take over the leadership of the national team from Captain Kohli.

" The Northern Derby" Iyer & KL Rahul

To start, KXIP team management has done exceptionally well to show their trust in the young leg spinner Bishnoi. He has been a revelation in the U-19 WC and under the tutelage of Kumble, he was slated to achieve big things already. It will do his confidence a world of good that, he has started as a first-choice player in the playing 11 for his team.

The pitch was lively, to begin with. Shami was exceptional, from the word go. The pitch aided his style of bowling and he extracted maximum purchase from the wicket with his skiddy back of length deliveries. Some mindless running from Shikhar Dhawan and some brain fade stroke play from Prithvi Shaw and Shimron Hetmeyer did not help the cause for the Delhi Capitals. But let’s not take away even a bit of credit from the fast bowler as he was coming off after a long break and he hit his straps right away.

After a shaky start, Iyer and Pant consolidated the innings well. Iyer looked at his fluent best, milking the bowling attack for singles and doubles to gain control over the middle overs. Iyer hit a few sixes off Gowtham and the partnership was looking to gain momentum. Just when the duo was looking to tee off, Captain KL introduced the leg spinner into the attack. It’s common knowledge by now, that Bishnoi’s strength is his googly and not his leg spinner, much like Piyush Chawla. His googly will be taking the ball away from the left-handed Pant and Rahul wanted to cash in on that opportunity to take Pant’s wicket.

Bishnoi showed exceptional maturity in his line and length in his very first match of the IPL and repaid the faith shown on him, by his skipper. He castled Pant in his 3rd over and bowled a fantastic economical spell, even though he bowled 2 of his 4 overs at the death.

Marcus Stoinis had been assigned a new role for DC this year. He has got immense success batting at the top of the order for his national team, as well as Melbourne Renegades. This time he was assigned the role of a finisher and he flourished in his first assignment. Just when DC was looking to fold up near about 120-130, Stoinis’ whirlwind half-century took the team to the brink of 160. He was aided by some immature death bowling by both Cottrell and Jordan. The strategy to double-bluff the batsmen did not work out for Stoinis and both of them ended up delivering friendly full toss to the burly Australian. It remains to be seen, how Stoinis fares against a better death bowling attack as a finisher.

Marcus Stoinis
Marcus Stoinis

The next half of the innings was a Mayank Agarwal show altogether. KL Rahul had come out publicly to state that he had lost his touch after the pandemic enforced a long break. To be honest, he looked rusty at the crease tonight. His feet were slow against the short ball, his sweetly-timed whips off the pad were hitting the inside edge. No wonder, Rahul was cleaned up by an in-ducker from the veteran Mohit Sharma.

A brief collapse followed for Punjab and each of the batsmen in the middle order played brainless cricket. Karun Nair wanted to slog Ashwin to the cow corner off the first delivery, knowing very well that Ashwin can be pretty deceitful with his carrom ball. Nicholas Pooran, who has been rated quite highly by Ian Bishop could not pick the arm ball from the veteran off-spinner and succumbed to the same. Maxwell, who just landed at UAE from England 4 days back, was still suffering from the hangover of fast pacy wickets in England. He toe-edged one to mid-off and Sarfraz Khan, who flatters to deceive every single IPL did not start the season on a good note, as well.

The only unfortunate thing for DC in this phase of play was the injury for Ashwin. We sincerely hope that it is nothing serious, and the champion spinner can ply his trade in the remainder of the IPL. However, post the collapse KXIP recovered well, with Mayank playing the innings of his life. Both Gowtham and Jordan played ideal second fiddle to him and KXIP slowly shifted the momentum in their favor. Even a pacer of the pedigree of Rabada was found wanting, in front of Agarwal tonight. Just when KXIP had almost won the game with 1 needed from 3 balls, Mayank did a Mushfiqur and attempted a glory shot rather than just closing the game. His wicket let the game slip into a super over.

Mayank Agarwal of Kings XI Punjab
Mayank Agarwal of Kings XI Punjab

The super over was one of the most sedate super overs in T20 history. Mayank could not bat owing to his dehydration and both Rahul and Pooran fell to Rabada (The Super over King who dislodged Andre Russell, last IPL). DC made an easy feast of the runs and in the end, you have to say that KXIP snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

KL will only hope that the middle order fires better in subsequent games for them as the franchise pins a lot of expectations on Glen Maxwell. Shreyas on the other hand has to worry about his team’s death bowling. Maybe he needs to look at Keemo Paul to replace Anrich Nortje in the 11 next match.