Punjab hold nerve to eke out victory

Kings XI Punjab cricketers cerebrate their victory against Delhi Daredevils during the IPL T20match at Ferozshah Kotla in New Delhi on Monday. PTI Photo

Delhi Daredevils frittered away a golden opportunity to break their losing streak after bowlers laid the groundwork. Instead, the hosts suffered a batting collapse to go down by four runs to Kings XI Punjab in Indian Premier League at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium here on Monday.

In fact, Shreyas Iyer (57) and Rahul Tewatia (24), during their sixth-wicket 47 runs partnership, had nearly got Daredevils to the finishing line. Shreyas kept up the fight till the end, despite losing Tewatia in the 18th over, and got Daredevils to a position where they needed five off the last ball. He, however, couldn’t clear offie Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s delivery over long-on to dash Daredevils’ hopes.

Daredevils had opted for a fast pitch in their first home game. Accordingly, they made as many as four changes and went with pacers, which included Avesh Khan and Liam Plunkett, the replacement of injured Kagiso Rabada. The combination worked nicely for Daredevils, who after opting to field, reduced Kings XI Punjab, who were playing without a “sore” Chris Gayle, to 143/8 in 20 overs.

In reply, Daredevils were trapped in a bind after they lost top three batsmen for 42 runs in Power Play. Debutant Prithvi Shaw, India’s under-19 World Cup winning captain, lived dangerously, before Ankit Rajpoot, extracting good pace and bounce, uprooted his off-stump. Two overs later, Glen Maxwell mistimed a pull and in the next, captain Gautam Gambhir, struggling with form, edged Andrew Tye to mid-off.

The combination of in-form Rishabh Pant and Shreyas faced the solemn task of rebuilding the innings. But Afghanistan off-spinner Mujeeb struck in his first ball that broke the defence of Pant. Iyer and Tewatia hung around to keep the hope floating, but at the end, it didn’t prove enough.

Englishman Plunkett, turning out for his maiden IPL contest, and young Avesh hunted in pair, well into the middle of the Daredevils innings, before left-armer Trent Boult bowled splendidly at death.

If Plunkett stuck to a disciplined line with a clever mix of pace, Avesh generated good pace. The absence of Gayle, who has been in envious form with one hundred and two 50s, stole the thunder from Kings XI’s batting. His replacement, Aaron Finch, and KL Rahul were out during the Power Play.

It was then left to the Karnataka duo of Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair to do the repair work. However, Agarwal didn’t’ continue for long; Plunkett knocked off his off-stump. Karun dug in his heels, even as Yuvraj Singh made a lacklustre presence.

With Kings XI at 85/4, Karun holed out at long-on and in the next over David Miller, after enjoying two lives, was brilliantly caught at cover by Plunkett. Boult and Plunkett then kept things tight at the final stretch to widen the possibilities for Daredevils. But then, like many a times in the past, Delhi just couldn’t make them count.

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