Kings XI Punjab’s Nicholas Pooran hits a six against Delhi Capitals during their IPL match on Tuesday. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Nicholas Pooran smacked a quick-fire fifty as Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) lived up to their reputation of being giant-killers as they slayed the table-toppers Delhi Capitals (DC) by five wickets to keep their IPL play-off hopes alive on Tuesday.
Despite a gritty century by Shikhar Dhawan, Delhi could manage to post only 164/5 and Punjab overhauled the target for the loss of just five wickets with six balls to spare.
Punjab, who were lying at the bottom of the table, saw a miraculous turnaround in their fortunes as from being mere cannon fodder, they have turned into giant-killers.
Punjab defeated Mumbai in the double Super Over in their last match after the first one failed to decide the fate of the game.
Chasing a competitive total, Punjab got off to a faltering start as they lost the first wicket with just 17 runs on the board.
Captain KL Rahul, who has been in stupendous form, was caught by Daniel Sam off Axar Patel.
West Indian swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle, who was brought into the fold after seven matches, added 35 runs for the second wicket as Punjab went past the 50-run mark in the power-play.
Delhi’s ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin rattled the stumps of the left-hander to derail the chase. He hit three fours and two boundaries in his 13-ball 29.
Mayank Agarwal, who is high on the heels of his skipper in the top-scorer’s list, was found short of his ground while scrambling for a cheeky single as Delhi lost the third wicket with 56 runs on the board.
Agarwal became the victim of a mix-up with Pooran, who would have been the biggest culprit had Punjab lost the match. But at the end of the day, he emerged as a hero and architect of a stunning win, which has kept them afloat.
Pooran redeemed for the howler and led the chase with a fluent 28-ball 53, which featured six boundaries and three sixes. He along with Glenn Maxwell (32) added a quick-fire 69 runs for the fourth wicket in just six overs to take the score to 125/4.
He set the tone for a successful chase and made it easier for the batsmen to come. When he got out, Punjab needed just 40 runs in eight overs. Deepak Hooda and James Neesham played sensibly to take Punjab over the line.
Punjab brought in Neesham for Chris Jordan while Delhi paid the price for omitting Anrich Nortje.
Earlier, Dhawan smashed a second successive century to propel Delhi to a fighting total of 164/5 after an abject surrender by the top order.
Delhi’s batting revolved around Dhawan as no batsman other than him even could manage to reach a score of 20. The second best was 14 – a tie between captain Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant.
Prithvi Shaw’s awful form with the bat continued though he managed to get off the mark in the third innings after two consecutive ducks. He scored seven before holing out to Maxwell off Neesham as Delhi lost their first wicket with just 25 runs on the board. His scores in the last three innings have been 0, 0, 7. After the departure of Shaw, Dhawan added a quick-fire 48 runs for the second wicket with Iyer in just five overs. Iyer was caught by his Punjab counterpart KL Rahul off Murugan Ashwin.
Delhi kept on losing the wicket at regular intervals and failed to capitalise on Dhawan’s stupendous knock. His unbeaten 61-ball 106 was studded with 12 boundaries and three sixes .
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