Delhi Daredevils needed only 12 from 14 balls with eight wickets in hand. Yuvraj Singh was exploding. He had found his rudder, clubbing balls effortlessly over mid-wicket and long-on. So Anureet Singh cleverly pulled his length back and almost tricked Yuvraj, who missed his timing and skied the ball over the cover area.
Mitchell Johnson was not too far away from it at extra cover. The ball landed some three to four feet next to him, but he did not make an attempt to go for it. There was no full-fledged dive. There was no desperation. He looked defeated. He was defeated. Johnson, who had gone for 43 from his four overs, reflected the spirit of the Kings XI team on the field. Rotten.
Though Delhi Daredevils tried their best to make the game more interesting by throwing away three wickets within the next 10 balls, the match had long slipped away from Kings XI. Or perhaps they never had it in their grasp. Delhi registered their first win in 12 games in gthe IPL as they made light work of chasing 166.
Johnson's over tilts the match
After 14 overs, Delhi Daredevils were at 102 for 2, still needing 64 from 36 balls. Going by the classic saying in T20 cricket, “Add two more wickets to the score to assess how well an innings is going”, Delhi didn’t really have the upper hand at that stage. Johnson had only one over left. It was an important call for the captain George Bailey – whether to go with Johnson to push home the advantage further, or keep him for the death over. Bailey punted on Johnson to fetch him those two wickets rightaway and take the game away from Delhi's reach.
But those two wickets never came. Instead, Johnson was put in his place by the explosive Mayank Agarwal, who by now has become an IPL veteran. Eighteen runs came off that over. The full ones outside off-stump were sliced away for fours towards third man. The fast and short one aiming for the rib cage, bowled at nearly 150 kmph, was swatted away deep backward square leg for a huge six.
What was not working, Mitch? Maybe you should give that handlebar moustache one more go. With that in place, your deliveries induce fear in the minds of batsmen. They hit the batsman’s body more often than the middle of their bat.
Wafer-thin bowling attack hurt Kings XI
The IPL is a long, tiring tournament, with very few days between matches and a team needs a variety of bowlers to succeed. This is one area the Kings XI side looks weaker compared to other sides. Their thin bowling strength is likely to land them in trouble, especially when someone like Johnson has an off-day. There are no other real wicket takers to stand up and be counted.
Indeed, there was no one to provide that breakthrough after Agarwal and Yuvraj had got their eyes in. Their third wicket partnership fetched 106 runs off 11 overs. When you let that happen, the chances of winning are almost nil in this format.
Axar Patel, at best, is a left arm-darts player. You know he is not going to run through batting sides. Rishi Dhawan looks a total misfit in the team. He has neither the pace nor the guile to succeed in T20 cricket. It is definitely time to give a chance to either pacer Shardul Takur or leg spinner Yogesh Golwalkar to boost the bowling.
Another middling knock from Sehwag
Earlier in the first innings, Virender Sehwag scored another one of those in-between scores, 47. Good for the average, but not great in terms of output if it comes at a strike rate of 115. Sehwag took 41 balls for his 47. Middling knock, yes, but middling all balls? Certainly not.
Sehwag was finding it hard to hit the disciplined bowling of Angelo Mathews and Nathan Coulter Nile. Both of them kept bowling a tight line to him and he struggled to get the ball off the square, resulting in a string of dot balls at a stage when Kings XI should have ideally tried to push their scoring rate up.
Sehwag took a liking to Imran Tahir, though. The man who has never feared spinners lofted Tahir over long-off on the first invitation for a six. The next ball, he camped on his back foot and guided the ball off the face of the bat, bisecting the fielders at backward point and short third man. Next ball, repeat. eighteen runs off Tahir's first over. His next ball was the first ball after Sehwag's dismissal. Takeaway: Viru still induces fear in the minds of spinners.
When will the ‘Big Show’ turn up?
Glenn Maxwell took the last edition of the IPL by storm. This year, though, it has been a different story so far. In three innings, he has a combined tally of 28 runs. Today, he started out well, depositing two Tahir googlies over midwicket using his amazing wrist power. But the last laugh was Tahir’s as he outdid the Australian with a leg break that spun away from him. Maxwell had to slice the shot after coming down the track, spooning a simple catch to deep cover.
Maxwell is not an unknown T20 basher anymore. He is a World Cup winner. He is a vital cog in Australia's limited-overs set-up. He is the crowd puller for Kings XI Punjab. With great powers come great responsibilities. Will he be able to fulfill them?
Delhi Daredevils (169 for 5) beat Kings XI Punjab (165 for 7) by 5 wickets.