IPL matches on Sunday and Monday produced entertainment for connoisseurs of cricket. High-flying KXIP lost to Kolkata, death-over miracle brought victory for RR and Mumbai beat Hyderabad in a clinical chase.
On Sunday’s first match the KXIP batting fire-power couldn’t click for once. Regardless, they still put up 149/9, helped largely by Virender Sehwag’s 50-ball 72. If Viru’s knock were not counted, rest of the KXIP batsmen hit just 6 fours and one six in a collective effort of 77 runs, which had 4 extras. Saha, Maxwell, Miller and Bailey were other top scorers with 15, 14, 13 and 12 runs in that order. Ex-KXIP cricketer, Piyush Chawla scalped 3 wickets for 19 off 4 overs. The new-found KKR opening partnership between skipper Gambhir and Uthappa is now working like a clock. The two of them put on 68 in 7 overs and played every Punjab bowler with consummate ease. Even after Uthappa got out after a briskly made 46 off 28 balls, Gambhir and Manish Pandey finished the 150-run chase like expert surgeons with 12 balls still remaining. For KKR, Gambhir returning to form is good news. He began the current IPL season with three ducks in a row and now he has scored his third consecutive fifty.
In the other match on Sunday, at Bangalore, Virat Kohli promoted himself to open the innings after winning the toss and opting to bat. Even so, the ploy didn’t work as Kohli succumbed in the 3rd over to a wild slash to an away going ball from Kane Richardson and managed to scoop the ball high over the third man’s head. Rajat Bhatia took an easy catch and Kohli continued with his poor show this IPL. For RCB, Chris Gayle has been another disappointment this season. On Sunday, he fell to his honesty as the umpire failed to notice the slightest snick, which Gayle got from a Pravin Tambe delivery. Just as the umpire prepared to signal a wide-ball, he saw the big man walking away. The third batsman to get out was Vijay Zol, who promised a longer stint with three exquisitely played boundaries in his 14 runs. RCB were in dire straits with 40/3 in the 9th over. Yuvraj Singh joined AB de Villiers at this point. For nearly a month now, Yuvraj has been under a severe microscopic scrutiny for his exorbitant price tag. He played awkwardly to the first two ball from Rahul Tewatia, before hammering the bowler the boundary. In Tambe’s next over, Yuvraj collected 10 runs by 2 fours and 2 singles and on the last ball of Tewatia’s next over, Yuvraj hit a clean six over deep mid-wicket. This would certainly have enhanced his confidence since then onwards he came into his own. After another six and a four off Rajat Bhatia’s next over, Yuvraj reached 35 off 17 balls. He was dropped, when on 48 but remained unruffled and completed his 50 off 24 balls by hoisting Richardson for another huge six. While Yuvraj was busy resurrecting himself, de Villiers kept up the pressure from the other side. The two batsmen took the score to 172, before Yuvraj fell to an LBW decision in 19th over. Yuvraj’s 38-ball 83 contained 7 sixes and 7 fours. In the 20th, de Villiers also got out but not before he had made 58 off 32 balls with 5 sixes and a four. 190/5 was extremely challenging to RR. Chasing 191, RR began confidently with Rahane and Nair putting on 54 for the first wicket, before Rahane got out. After his super knock of 83, Yuvraj Singh excelled with the ball and removed the next four batsmen with his slow left-armers. In 14th over, RR were tottering at 106/5. Just when it seemed that RCB would emerge the victors in this game, Steven Smith and James Faulkner began a murderous onslaught. Smith took 14 from the 15th over bowled by Varun Aaron. At the end of the 16th over RR still needed 65 from 24 balls and RCB looked like winning. But Smith and Falkner were not through yet. In Mitchell Starc’s 17th over, Faulkner hit 18 runs out of 21 and Smith hammered Dinda for 21 out of 23 in the 18th. It became easy for RR as just 21 were needed from 12 balls. Faulkner didn’t allow the proceedings to spill to 20th over as he took 18 off 19th, bowled by Aaron. Smith scored a single and with two wide-balls in the over, RR pulled off an amazing victory against heavy odds.
On Monday, Mumbai took to field against hosts Hyderabad, after Dhawan opted to bat first post the toss. SRH top order did reasonably well despite an early loss of Dhawan. Finch excelled with a decent support from Lokesh Rahul but the two of them did little to spruce up the scoring rate. After Rahul fell in the 10th over, SRH had only scored 70. Warner joined Finch and the two Australians went for quick runs in later stages. With 33 coming in the last two overs, SRH presented Mumbai with a target of 158. For a change, the Mumbai batting showed signs of improvement. Despite Gautam falling in the second over, Rayudu and Simmons produced a 130-run second wicket stand in good time to make MI reach a position of strength. Both these batsmen scored an identical 68 with Rayudu being a shade faster. When Rayudu got out at 141 as the third wicket, 17 runs were required off 19 balls and Rohit Sharma and Kierron Pollard occupied the crease. They played unhurried cricket and MI won by 7 wickets with 8 balls remaining.