The second week of the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League was primarily enveloped by issues other than those related to cricket. On the basis of a PIL filed by a Hyderabad based NGO named Loksatta Movement which demanded the transfer of IPL matches from Maharashtra which is plagued with serious drought problems at the moment, the Bombay High Court ordered the BCCI to shift all IPL matches scheduled after April 30 from the drought hit areas of Maharashtra. Furthermore, it also directed Indian cricket’s parent body to guarantee 64 lakh litres of water to the villages facing acute shortage of drinking water. Accordingly, alternative venues had to be chosen for the 13 games to be relocated. Of these 13 games, four were scheduled to be played in Mumbai, six to be hosted by Pune (including the eliminator and the 2nd Qualifier) and three at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur which was initially chosen by Kings XI Punjab as their second home ground prior to the commencement of the season.
Following the Bombay High Court’s directive, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla offered four alternative venues to the respective franchises (Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiants and Kings XI Punjab) in Jaipur, Kanpur, Raipur and Visakhapatnam. While the Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants confirmed the Sawai Man Singh Stadium ( in Jaipur) and Dr.Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam as their substitute home bases respectively, Kings XI Punjab opted for the picturesque HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala as their second home-ground for this season. However, the second leg of the Maharashtra derby between Rising Pune Supergiants and the Mumbai Indians, slated to be played on May 1, will take place as per as the original schedule at the MCA Stadium in Pune.
The dearth of water in certain parts of the country though didn’t lead to any deficiency of cricketing action on the field as the 9 games played across the second week of IPL 2016 brought to the fore some startling feats and some equally substandard results.
On Monday (18th April, 2016), bottom placed Sunrisers Hyderabad squared off against defending champions Mumbai Indians at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.The flip of the coin was won by home skipper David Warner and he put the visitors in to bat first. Mumbai was bolstered by the inclusion of Martin Guptil who was drafted into the squad in place of the injured Lendl Simmons. Guptil (2 off 4 balls), initially left unsold at the auction didn’t have a memorable start to his IPL career as he perished to a delivery bowled outside off-stump by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in the fourth ball of the match. Ambati Rayudu who was playing his 100th IPL match strode out to the middle in pursuit of steadying the ship with Parthiv Patel. Patel (10 off 12 balls) who was throwing his hands at almost everything was done in by a crafty slower ball from BarinderSran; leaving his team at 23/2at the end of 4 overs. MI Captain Rohit Sharma and their English recruit Jos Buttler departed in quick succession and the defending champions who are known to be slow starters in the marathon league were reeling at 60/4 at the end of 11 overs. Rayudu who had managed to cling on to one end was joined by KrunalPandya at the crease and the duo put on 73 runs for the fifth wicket before Rayudu was scalped by Sran for a meticulously crafted 54 (studded with 3 boundaries and 2 sixes) in the 18th over. A whirlwind knock of 49 off 28 balls (3 fours and 3 sixes) by KrunalPandyain the dying stages of the first innings ensured the Mumbai Indians reached a respectable 142/6 at the end of their allotted 20 overs. BarinderSran starred with the ball for SRH as he finished with figures of 3/28.
In reply, the home side suffered an early setback in the form of ShikharDhawan’s dismissal whose run of poor form remained intact as he was sent back to the pavilion for 2 (off 4 balls) in the very first over of the SRH innings; courtesy of a full length delivery in the off-stump channel from Tim Southee which ended up crashing into his stumps. But David Warner’s alliance with fellow countryman MoisesHenriques at the crease calmed the jitters in the Sunrisers dressing room as the pair stitched together a partnership worth 64 runs for the second wicket before Henriques was dismissed by Southeein the 11th over. The rest of the chase was a mere formality as the left handed Warner remained unbeaten on 90 runs off 59 balls (including 7 fours and 4 sixes) to take his team over the victory line and register their first victory of the season. Unsurprisingly, the 29-year old Australian vice-Captain was adjudged the Man of the Match for his astounding performance.
The second game of the week (played on April 19) saw 2014 finalists- Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders lock horns with each other at the PCA Stadium in Mohali. Having won the toss, KKR skipper GautamGambhir elected to field first and his pace spearhead MorneMorkel proved the decision correct by seeing off MananVohra for 8 (off 12 balls) in the fourth over of the KXIP innings. Murali Vijay and Shaun Marsh then united in the middle with a view toconsolidate the Punjab innings but their partnership was brought to an end by PiyushChawla when he grabbed Murali Vijay’s wicket in the 8th over with a fuller ball which was dragged onto the stumps by the batsman. Post Vijay’s dismissal, none of the KXIP players barring Shaun Marsh and No. 10 Kyle Abbott (12*) could reach double figures. Marsh remained unbeaten on 56 (off 41 balls; decorated with 5 fours and a six) to take the KXIP total to 138/8 at the end of the first innings. Sunil Narine was the pick of the Knight bowlers as he returned with figures of 2/22 from his quota of 4 overs whereas Morne Morkel recorded impressive figures of 2/27.
Chasing a total of 139, the Knights got off to a blistering start; thanks to a brilliant 82-run stand between Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa for the opening wicket. Uthappa reached his maidenhalf century of the season in almost no time, notching up his fifty in just 24 balls which is the fastest IPL fifty this season. The 30 year old eventually headed back to the pavilion in the 9th overas he perished in a vain attempt to sweep a flipper from leg-spinner Pardeep Sahu which struck him plumb in front. The responsibility of carrying the team across the thresholds of victory thereby shifted to Captain Gambhir who fell prey to Sahu in the 11th over when a miscued pull towards mid-wicket was remarkably caught by Glenn Maxwell who had to run in from the boundary to take the catch. Yet, the match for even once didn’t slip out of the visitors’ hands as Surya Kumar Yadav (11 off 9 balls) and Yusuf Pathan (12 off 6 balls) remained not out till the end and enabled KKR to cruise to victory over the hosts by 6 wickets and with 17 deliveries to spare. ‘Walking assassin’ Robin Uthappa was rightly chosen as ‘Man of the Match’ for his stroke filled 53 runs off 28 balls.
The following day (20th April, 2016), the Wankhede Stadium had an exciting game on the cards as two of the most beguiling players of the current Indian set-up- Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, were up against each other. Having lost their previous match each, both teams were in desperate need of a win going into the game. Kohli’s‘waning’ form with the coin continuedas his MI counterpart Rohit Sharma won the toss and boldly sent RCB in to bat first. Much to the surprise of critics, RCB ringed in as many as six changes to the team which lost to Delhi Daredevils in their previous encounter. Chris Gayle who had flown back home a day before the game at Wankhede for the birth of his first child, was swapped for Australia’s explosive middle-order batsman Travis Head in the RCB Playing XI. Likewise Varun Aaron, Kane Richardson, KL Rahul, Stuart Binny and Iqbal Abdullah were brought in for Parvez Rasool, Yuzvendra Chahal, David Wiese, Kedar Jadhav and Sreenath Aravind respectively.Kohli and his opening partner for the night KL Rahul began the RCB innings on a promising note, by notching up 32 runs inside the first 4 overs but their salvo proved to be short-lived as Rahul was scalped by Mitchell McClenaghan off the final ball of the fourth over when the former’s unsuccessful effort to fend outside off-stump offered a simple catch to Harbhajan Singh at slip. His 23 off 14 balls comprised 2 fours and 2 sixes, three of which were hit in the overin which he was dismissed. AB de Villiers and ViratKohli looked to carry forward the momentum provided by Rahul as the top two ODI batsmen in the world put on 59 runs for the second wicket. Just when it seemed like RCB would walk away with the game, Krunal Pandya came to skipper Rohit Sharma’s rescue by removing the two well-set batsmen in the 11th over, thus bringing his side back into the contest. Sarfaraz Khan and Travis Head combined to launch a blitzkrieg in the death overs which lifted the RCB total to a decent 170/7 at the conclusion of the 20 overs. Young Indian sensation Jasprit Bumrah shined with ball for MI as he returned with figures of 3/31 while left arm spinner Krunal Pandya had a couple of wickets (including those of Kohli and De Villiers) to his name.
Barring the first two overs within which Parthiv Patel was sent back to the hut owing to a miscued pull off Kane Richardson’s bowling which was successfully nabbed by De Villiers at point; Mumbai Indians were in complete control of the chase as Rohit Sharma, AmbatiRayudu (31 off 23 balls), Jos Buttler (28 off 14 balls) and Kieron Pollard (40* off 19 balls) all chipped in with valiant contributions and won their side the game with 6 wickets in hand and 2 overs to spare. None of the RCB bowlers could dig deep into the MI middle order except Iqbal Abdullah who picked up 3 wickets at the expense of 40 runs. Rohit Sharma (62 off 44 balls; studded with 4 boundaries and 3 sixes) slammed the 27th IPL fifty of his career to pick up the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
On Thursday (21st April), the Suresh Raina led Gujarat Lions took on Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. The toss was won by David Warner who asked the hosts to bat first. The Sunrisers found a reason to celebrate early as Bhuvaneshwar Kumar removed the in-form Aaron Finch (0) in the very first over of the game with a well-disguised slower ball pitched on the fourth stump which induced Finch to play on to his off-stump. Lions’ Captain Suresh Raina along with former Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum set about repairing the damage as they added 56 runs for the second wicket in 7 overs, thus helping restore some much needed sanity to the situation. However, McCullum’s (18 off 17 balls) dismissal in the 8th over exposed the chinks in Gujarat’s middle order. Apart from RavindraJadeja who scored 14 runs off 14 balls coming in at No. 6, no other batsman managed to get to double figures which resulted in the Lions ending their innings at 135/8 after 20 overs. Suresh Raina was the only glimmer of hope for the home side as he brought up his 26th IPL half century- 75 off 51 balls (9 fours). In the process, he became the first Indian batsman to amass 6000 runs in T20 cricket and is the 17th overall to achieve the milestone. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar truncated the flow of runs at the death as he blew a hole in the much vaunted GL middle-order with 4 wickets for 29 runs from his quota of 4 overs and was ably aided by left arm seamersBarinderSran (1/36) and MustafizurRahman (1/19), both of whom picked up a wicket apiece.
The chase looked like a mere walk in the park for the visiting ‘Orange Army’ as they registered a thumping 10-wicket victory over the Gujarat Lions by riding on the back of half centuries from David Warner (74 off 48 balls) and ShikharDhawan (53 off 41 balls).Only 7 times in the history of the IPL hitherto had a side managed to win by a margin of 10 wickets. SRH’s accomplishment against the Gujarat Lions made them the latest entrant to the list.
Dhawan’s(who was playing his 100th IPL match) return to form came as a huge incentive for the Sunrisersfor it promised to fortify their strength at the top of the order. In the procedure, he became only the third player after Mumbai Indians’ Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu to notch up a fifty in his 100th IPL match.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s wonderful spell of 4/29 earned him the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
The Maharashtra Cricket Association on Friday, April 22 was up for a mouth-watering contest between India’s limited overs Captain’sside and IndianTest Captain’s team. Fans of either team throbbed in anticipation of a thrilling fight between Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore on the 22 yards as both teams needed to win the game badly to get their campaign back on track. RPS skipper M.S Dhoni’s luck at the coin toss enabled the home fans to spectate opposition Captain ViratKohli’s batting heroics from the outset of the match. RPS made just a solitary change to their Playing XI which suffered a defeat at the hands ofKings XI Punjab in their previous game as Ankit Sharma came into the side in place of IrfanPathan. On the flipside, South African chinaman bowler TabraizShamsi and Mandeep Singh were swapped for Travis Head and Varun Aaron in the RCB outfit respectively. Having lost his opening partner KL Rahul (7 off 10 balls) in the fourth over of the match with just 27 runs on the board,Kohli got together with AB de Villiers and put the RPS bowlers to the sword by cashing in on anything loose on offer. The duo stitched together a 155-run partnership for the second wicket as both batsmen looked in complete control against the opposition bowlers, exhibiting a wide range of shots on both sides of the wicket. It was their third 150-run stand in the IPL which is the most by any pair in the tournament history.De Villiers was the more dominant partner of the two as he clubbed 4 sixes and struck 6 boundaries en route to 83 off 46 balls whereas Kohli played a sheet-anchor role, as he hit 7 fours and 2 sixes during his knock of 80 off 63 balls. By the time Thisara Perera dismissed both Kohli and De Villiers in the final over, the damage was already inflicted as RCB finished their innings at 185/2 at the end of 20 overs. Barring Thisara Perera (3/34), not a single bowler from the RPS camp could punch his name into the wickets column.
In reply to RCB’s formidable total, the Supergiants had a couple of hiccups at the start of their chase as Faf du Plessis (2) was scalped by Kane Richardson in the second over and Kevin Pietersen (0) retired hurt after twisting his ankle while scampering for a single in the same over which saw him hobbling towards the pavilion. The departure of both these batsmen reduced Pune’s chances greatly and the situation got worse with the loss of Steve Smith’s wicket (4) in the third over of the RPS innings. Smith’s dismissal brought Dhoni to the crease and he united with AjinkyaRahane in the middle to forge a partnership of91 runs for the third wicket. It seemed as if they had exchanged roles as Rahane (60 off 46 balls) went about his business to maul the RCB bowlers with a blend of deft touches and elegant stroke play,whereas Dhoni played a more circumspect innings by battling out an arduous phase and scoring 41 off 38 balls (3 fours). Their partnership helped Pune stage a comeback but that resurgence didn’t last too long as RCB’s latest spin armament TabraizShamsi claimed the wicket of Rahane who was deceived by a sliding delivery from the chinaman bowler that went past his wild swing and enabled keeper Rahul to affect an easy stumping. Dhoni followed suit in the next over as an outstanding catch by AB de Villiers at the long off boundary off Harshal Patel’s bowling sent the RPS skipper back to the hut which left Pune needing another 66 runs in 25 deliveries to win the contest. The chances of staging a turnaround was rekindled by the pair of Thisara Perera and Rajat Bhatia whose lower order blitz dragged their team closer to the required target. Perera (34 off 13 balls; 3 fours and 3 sixes) even struck Harshal Patel for 25 runs in one over but once he was removed by Shane Watson in the penultimate over, RPS couldn’t launch another counter punch and slumped to a 13-run victory. Shane Watson (2/31) turned out to be the crusader for RCB whose two wickets (that of Perera and Ashwin) in the 19th over turned the tide in his team’s favour. His compatriot Richardson also impressed one and all with tidy figures of 3/13 from 3 overs. Once again for his instrumental role in piloting RCB to a victory this season, AB de Villiers was awarded with the ‘Man of the Match’ trophy.
Going into the weekend, fans were expectant of some riveting cricketing action which would relieve them from a long, dreary week of desk work. Four teams in Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab took to the field on Saturday and the rest on Sunday.
First, Delhi Darevils squared off against Mumbai Indians on a sultry Saturday afternoon at the Feroz Shah Kotla in a game which was labelled as ‘Veterans v/s Youngsters’. Mumbai Indians won the toss and elected to bowl first. Put in to bat, the Daredevils got off to a lousy start as they lost their centurion of the previous game, Quinton de Kock for just 9 runs (off 7 balls) in the 2nd over of the match. Their agony further multiplied when their other opener SreyasIyer (19 off 20 balls) perished to a catch by AmbatiRayudu off HardikPandya’s bowling in the seventh over. To make matters even worse for the hosts, Karun Nair fell prey to Harbhajan Singh in the very next over in a vain attempt to sweep a ball tossed on the off-stump which produced a top edge and offered a regulation catch to Tim Southee at long leg. The job of mending the DD innings was undertaken by young Sanju Samson who got along with J.P Duminy of South Africa to record a 71-run stand for the fourth wicket which was eventually broken when Samson (60 off 48 balls; 4 boundaries and a couple of sixes)departed in the 17th over having clobbered aMitchell McClenaghan delivery over long onwhich was successfully nabbed by Tim Southee. After Samson’s dismissal, PawanNegi(10 runs) walked to the crease to face the final few deliveries and gave the well-set Duminy (49* off 31 balls) company to lift the Daredevils total to a sober 164/4 at the completion of their innings.
Chasing 165 at a modest asking rate of 8.25, Parthiv Patel’s run out in the second over created anxiety for the visitors but the innings was steadied soon after as Captain Rohit Sharma (who earlier in the day became the 8th player to captain his side in 50 IPL matches) and AmbatiRayudu put up 53 runs in 41 balls for the second wicket. But a disciplined bowling display by the DD bowlers put the brakes on the Mumbai Indians innings as AmbatiRayudu was cleaned up by a flighted googly from Amit Mishra in the ninth over. Rayudu’s volatile knock of 25 runs consisted of four boundaries. At the other end, Rohit Sharma who was hitherto playing the role of the second fiddle, continued to pace his innings methodically and was well aidedby KrunalPandya as the pair shared a 41-run stand for the third wicket. Krunal, who was promoted up the order, struck some lusty blows and took the attack to the opposition by making a quick-fire 36 off 17 balls (4 boundaries and 2 sixes) before he was run out in the 13th over- thanks to the demonstration of a brilliant presence of mind by Zaheer Khan as a direct throw from him off his own bowling ensured he was caught short of the crease at the non-striker’s end. Mishra then outwitted Jos Butler (2 runs) with yet another googly which trapped him lbw. Rohit was joined by Kieron Pollard at the crease with MI needing 47 runs to win off the last 4 overs. But Pollard dashed all their hopes by succumbing to a Zaheer Khan delivery in the penultimate over. The game went down to the wire as the equation was brought down to 21 runs required off the last over but an unnecessary confusion with non-striker HardikPandya had Rohit run out in the 3rd ball of the last over. It was the 28th time the MI skipper was involved in a run out which is the most in the history of the IPL. Rohit (65 off 48 balls) had bludgeoned a six off Chris Morris’ second ball of the over and a prolonged stay at the crease could have altered the complexion of the game big time. DD thus scraped to a close 10-run victory with Sanju Samson receiving the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his gritty half century. Amit Mishra once again reiterated why he is the best leg-spinner in the country by finishing with figures of 4-0-24-2. It was DD’s third victory on the trot which happened for the first time since 2012.
Later in the evening, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab faced off at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. It was a litmus test for David Miller’s men who had a topsy-turvy run in the tournament till then. The toss was won by home skipper David Wraner who put the visitors in to bat first. Hyderabad’s bowlers set up the contest for them as Mustafizur Rahman produced the spell of his life (4-1-9-2) to break the backbone of the KXIP innings as the men from Punjab were reduced to just 143 runs (for the loss of 6 wickets) on the board with only three players in MananVohra (25), Shaun Marsh (40) and Nikhil Naik (22) making valuable contributions to the below-par total. Mustafizur’s efforts were ably complementedby SRH’s Australian recruit MoisesHenriques who also picked up a couple of wickets. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar scalped just a lone wicket from his quota of 4 overs while BarinderSran, Deepak Hooda and Bipul Sharma went wicket-less.
In reply, the SRH opening pair of David Warner and ShikharDhawan recorded their second fifty-run stand of the season as it took the KXIP bowlers 10 oversto earn the first breakthrough; that when David Warner was dismissed for a well compiled 58 in the 10th over (off 31 balls; 7 fours and 3 sixes) off a Sandeep Sharma delivery which was caught safely by his KXIP counterpart David Miller at long-on. Along with RCB’s AB de Villiers, Warner has hit the most number of sixes in IPL 9 so far. Despite SRH’s early fireworks, it seemed that there was a twist to the tale as Aditya Tare, who was playing his first match of the season, was run out by Miller in the very next ball of Sharma’s over. However a watchful innings by ShikharDhawan (45 off 44 balls) backed up by Eoin Morgan’s cameo of 25 off 20 balls enabled SRH to edge closer to their 3rd consecutive victory of the season. In the end, the task at hand was accomplished bythe unbeaten pair of MoisesHenriques (5) and NamanOjha (2) which took SRH across the finish-line. None of the KXIP bowlers were able to sink their teeth in, though Sandeep Sharma emerged as the most impressive among the KXIP bowlers with figures of 1/30.The loss suffered at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad further worsened the performance graph of KXIP in IPL Season-9 as they collapsed to their fourth defeat in 5 games this season. The Captain’s dismal form has been piling up the misery for his side as he and Glenn Maxwell perished in the same over for the third time in this edition.
The ‘Fizz’ Mustafizur Rahman was aptly chosen as ‘Man of the Match’ for his stupendous bowling display.
The temperature soared on an energy-sapping afternoon in Rajkot when Suresh Raina’s Gujarat Lions came across ViratKohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore on 24th April, Sunday. The occasion called for an exhilarating match as it was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s 43rd birthday. ViratKohli’s poor luck at the coin toss finally reached a conclusion as he called it right and opted to bat first on what was expected to be a batting-friendly pitch. RCB didn’t get off to the best of starts as Kohli’s new partner at the top of the order Shane Watson (6 runs) perished in the second over of the contest. Thereafter Kohli and De Villiers as usual began to put on a strong resistance and they produced for a steady 51-run partnership for the second wicket. But their fastidiously crafted partnership was brought to a halt in the 8th over as De Villiers headed back to the pavilion; courtesy of a PravinTambe delivery which was lofted over covers by the batsman and ultimately grabbed by Suresh Raina at deep.
Post De Villiers’ dismissal, Kohli fell into a phase where runs had become difficult to come by but once KL Rahul got setat the crease, he came out of his shell and launched an onslaught in the dying stages of the innings. With 11 boundaries, 1 six and ample singles, the 27 year-old Kohli (100*) looked to carry on from where he had left in the previous game and reached his maiden IPL century which served as the perfect gift to his idol, Tendulkar on the latter’s special occasion. KL Rahul’s levelheadedness (51* off 35 balls; 4 boundaries and 3 sixes), coupled with Kohli’s blitzkrieg in the middletook the RCB total to 180/2 after the end of the first set of 20 overs.
In response to RCB’s formidable total, Gujarat openers Dwyane Smith and Brendon McCullum got the team off to a flying start, hammering 47 runs in the first five overs. Smith, who was traded for the in-form Aaron Finch at the top of the order, provided the impetus to the Lions’ innings by notching up 32 runs off 21 balls (3 fours and 2 sixes) before capitulating to a Kane Richardson delivery in the sixth over which had him caught by AB de Villiers. Brendon McCullum continued to pace his innings savagely and struck a brisk 42 off 24 balls (studded with 5 fours and a six) in liaison with Suresh Raina who played a prudent knock of 28 runs (off 24 balls). McCullum took 20 runs in his second over which encompassed five wides. TabraizShamsi got his side rid of McCullum with a wily caught and bowled effort in the 9th over. Suresh Raina then steered the Lions total to 140/3 at the close of the 16th over in company of Dinesh Karthik.Their 3rd wicket stand accounted for 53 runs. They never really allowed the visitors to sneak back into the contest by dashing out vigorous partnerships one after the other.Raina’s cameo finally came to an end when he was ensnared by a wrong ‘un from YuzvendraChahal in the 16th over. Needing 41 runs to win off the last 22 deliveries, Dinesh Karthik (50*), RavindraJadeja (12 runs) and Dwyane Bravo stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods to ensure a convincing 6-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore. In spite of the fact this his century went for a losing cause, RCB Captain ViratKohli was endowed with the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his magnificent unbeaten hundred.
In the evening, the action shifted to the MCA Stadium in Pune for the final game of the week between two-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders and tournament debutants Rising Pune Supergiants. The toss was won by KKR skipper GautamGambhir who elected to field first. The first wicket of the RPS innings fell in the final delivery of the 4th over bowled by Bangladesh’s talismanic all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan who cleaned upFaf du Plessis for 4 runs (off 9 balls) with a straighter one that crashed into du Plessis’ stumps. With Kevin Pietersen ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a calf injury, the onus lay on AjinkyaRahane’s and Steve Smith’s shoulders to construct a strong edifice at the start of the innings. Both of them kept their cool and set up a good platform for the middle order to go hammer and tongs. Their collective effort saw Pune cross the 80 run mark in 12.2 overs. Just when the RPS camp looked sanguine of a big first innings total, RajagopalSatish (playing his first IPL game in 3 years), put in an extraordinary effort to run Smith out by picking up the ball whipping off the bails off his own bowling. KKR then strengthened their vice-like grip on the match by truncating the tempo of the RPS innings, giving way just 6.72 runs per over. The Knights had picked up 11 wickets between overs 11-15 in their previous games but the pair of Rahane (67 off 52 balls; 4 boundaries and 3 sixes) and ThisaraPerera managed to stave off intimidating spells from Sunil Narine and Shakib-Al-Hasan. The RPS scorecard read 100-3 at the end of 15 overs until a late surge from ThisaraPerera (12 off 9 balls), AlbieMorkel (16 off 9 balls) and M.S Dhoni (23* off 12 balls) injected some life into theRPS innings as they finished at 160/5 after 20 overs. 60 runs were plundered off the last 5 overs which provided the hosts with something to play with. For the Knights, Shakib-Al-Hasan, Sunil Narine, Satish and UmeshYadavshared the wickets themselves with Shakib being the pick of the bowlers who returned with figures of 3-0-14-1. GautamGambhir marshalled his troops resplendently and his bowling department rose well to the occasion.
Chasing 161, the Knights suffered an early jolt as AlbieMorkel trapped Robin Uthappa plumb in front in the first ball of the KKR innings. In the second over, the search for a needless run after dabbing the ball towards deep mid-wicket had GautamGambhir run out with a direct throw by SaurabhTiwary from mid-on to the gloves of M.S Dhoni who whipped off the bails in quick time to see off his KKR counterpart. Apprehension naturally crept into the Knights’ dressing room which demanded a special knock from KKR vice-Captain Surya Kumar Yadav to restore some much needed sanity to the situation and the 25-year old Surya (who was pushed up the order as Manish Pandey missed the game owing to chicken pox) rose to the occasion in style by bringing up his maiden IPL fifty in just 39 balls. Surya applied himself well on the tricky wicket and was adeptly supported by Yusuf Pathan at the other end who clubbed 2 fours and as many sixes on his way to 36 off 27 balls. The duo put on a crucial 51 run stand for the fourth wicket and skilfully negotiated the potential threat posed by the RPS bowlers. There was quite a bit of purchase for the spinners from the pitch but Surya and Yusuf wrested the momentum in KKR’s favour having been trottedto the crease for 8 overs. When Pathan departed in the 15th over (having missed a fuller ball from Rajat Bhatia which trapped him lbw), KKR had put 111 runs on the board.Even though the Knights stumbled a wee bit towards the end, UmeshYadav lashed out at a slower delivery from ThisaraPerera in the third ball of the final over anddispatched it into the stands for a six to handKKR their third away victory in a row. Surya Kumar Yadav who batted in the top 3 for the first time during his stint with KKR, was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’ for his adroit half century.
After the completion of the third round and the first 20 games of IPL 2016, Kolkata Knight Riders were perched at the top of the points table with 8 points from 5 matches and are above second placed Gujarat Lions in the points table by virtue of theirsuperior NRR. On the flipside, Kings XI Punjab was ailing at the bottom with just a solitary win from their five outings. This is how the Points Table looked like after the end of Match 20 between Rising Pune Supergiants and Kolkata Knight Riders on April 24.
POINTS TABLE (as on 24th April 2016)
KKR Captain GautamGambhir who finished the preceding week as the highest run scorer has slipped to the fifth position with 226 runs and has been displaced at the helm by RCB Captain ViratKohli who has climbed up to the first position with 367 runs from 5 games at an average of 91.75 (including 3 fifties and 1 hundred) after Round 3. Amusingly, Gujarat Lions’ Aaron Finch who finished the last week as the second highest run scorer behind Gambhir in the race for the Orange Cap has fallen to the 8th spot with 191 runs from 4 innings at an average of 63.66.
As far as the bowlers are concerned, Mumbai Indians’ Mitchell McClenaghan leads the list for the Purple Cap with 9 wickets with an economy rate of 8.33. Third ranked MustafizurRahaman has the best economy rate among all the bowlers with 5.75, while fourth ranked Amit Mishra has the best bowling average among bowlers with 10.28.
Here’s a quick look at the Orange Cap and Purple Cap lists after Round 3.
ORANGE CAP LIST (as on 24th April 2016)
|1. ViratKohli (RCB)||5||367||100* v/s GL||91.75|
|2. David Warner (SRH)||5||294||90* v/s MI||98|
|3. AB de Villiers (RCB)||5||269||83 v/s RPS||53.8|
|4. GautamGambhir (KKR)||5||237||90* v/s SRH||79|
|5. Rohit Sharma (MI)||6||230||84* v/s KKR||46|
PURPLE CAP LIST (as on 24th April 2016)
|BOWLER||MATCHES||WICKETS||Economy Rate||Bowling Average|
|1. Mitchell McClenaghan (MI)||6||9||8.13||20.3|
|2. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (SRH)||5||8||8.35||20.87|
|3. MustafizurRahman (SRH)||5||7||5.75||16.42|
|4. Amit Mishra (DD)||4||7||6||10.28|
|5. MuruganAshwin (RPS)||5||7||8||20.57|
And now we come to the most difficult section of the package- The Performer of The Week. Aaron Finch had clinched the title last week for his string of 3 consecutive fifties and it is needless to say that we have a new winner this time around. For scoring 183 runs (at an average of 91.5 and with a Strike Rate of 118), in the span of just 7 days, Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper ViratKohli has been selected as Cric Fit’s Performer of The Week after Round 3.
Although the competition was tougher this time given the acts exhibited by MustafizurRahman, AB de Villiers, Mitchell McClenaghan and David Warner; Kohli was the runaway favourite for the title following his maiden IPL century against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot on 24th April.
PERFORMER OF THE WEEK- VIRAT KOHLI (RCB).
This brings us to the end of this week’s review of IPL 2016.
Stay tuned to this space for all the latest news and updates pertaining to the tournament where cricket meets entertainment..