Kings XI Punjab got knocked out of the tournament on Sunday as Chennai Super Kings beat them by five wickets in the last league match at Pune. It was quite a disappointing that a team that did so well in the first half of the tournament, lost track in the latter part and eventually got knocked out after a series of defeats.
The match started with MS Dhoni winning the toss and opting to field first. In conditions conducive for swing and seam bowling, Chennai’s opening bowlers, Deepak Chahar and Lungi Ngidi, put out scintillating displays and reduced the visitors to 16/3.
Manoj Tiwary and David Miller led Punjab’s recovery with a 60-run stand and Karun Nair’s fiery fifty helped Punjab to post a score of 153. Ngidi was the pick of the Chennai bowlers as he registered bowling figures of 4-1-10-4.
Chennai also didn't have the best of starts as Mohit Sharma and Ankit Rajpoot combined to send Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plesis and Sam Billings back to the pavilion in quick succession. The recovery was then led by Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, who was promoted up the order to accelerate the scoring.
At one point, it seemed like the hosts were going to lose the match as Harbhajan couldn't quite do the job he was supposed to do and the asking rate had crept up a lot. However, Deepak Chahar walked out to bat after his dismissal and changed the momentum of the match with his 20-ball blitz of 39 runs. Raina accelerated after he departed and remained unbeaten on 61 runs off just 48 deliveries. It was MS Dhoni, who hit the winnings runs with a huge six of the first ball of the 19th over.
Let's have a look at how all the players have performed in this match and rate them on a scale of 1-10:
Suresh Raina - 10/10
Raina anchored Chennai’s innings very well in the match. He remained calm throughout the innings holding one end up. His approach allowed Chahar to play the cameo that turned out to be a really important one for Chennai. And when Chahar departed, Raina took the responsibility of accelerating the innings and helped his team to victory. He remained unbeaten on 61 runs off just 48 deliveries, an innings that consisted of just four fours and two maximums.
Lungi Ngidi - 10/10
Ngidi produced his best spell of the season in their last league game. He destroyed Punjab’s batting line up with a fiery spell of 4-1-10-4. He sent shockwaves down the Kings XI Punjab camps by sending both of their openers, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, back to the dug-out early in the innings. He returned in his second spell at the death to claim the wickets of Ravichandran Ashwin and Andrew Tye in the same over. Thus, on one hand, he showed his skills with the new ball and on the other hand he showed that he is not a one-dimensional bowler with his fabulous death bowling.
Karun Nair - 10/10
Nair started off his IPL 2018 campaign in a fabulous manner with a half-century. Although, his form dipped in the middle of the tournament, he produced his best, once again, in their last league game, that too when his team needed it the most. He walked out to bat at No 6 in the 12th over and went on to score 54 runs off just 26 deliveries, an innings that comprised of three nicely timed boundaries and five huge sixes. It was his innings that helped the Kings XI to post a challenging total of 153 runs.
Ankit Rajpoot - 9/10
Rajpoot ignited hopes of victory in Kings XI Punjab camps when he rattled Chennai with back-to-back strikes in the fifth over of the innings. First, he had Du Plesis caught by Chris Gayle and then cleaned up Sam Billings with an absolute beauty of a delivery. Not only that, the over turned out to be a maiden and that put Chennai under extreme pressure. He maintained that rhythm throughout his spell as he finished with bowling figures of 4-1-19-2.
Deepak Chahar - 9/10
Chahar, once again, produced an excellent opening burst with the new ball. His delivery to dismiss Aaron Finch was an absolute treat to watch. However, he went for few runs in his final two overs and thus registered bowling figures of 4-0-30-1, which were still decent. But who knew that it was his time to shine with the bat in the match. Walking out to bat at No 6, he turned the match on his head with his 20-ball cameo of 39 runs. His fiery innings consisted of three sixes and one four and it completely changed the dynamics of the game.
Ravindra Jadeja - 7/10
Jadeja bowled three overs on a wicket that had almost everything for the pacers, but not as much for the spinners. However, he did a commendable job of conceding just 23 runs and claimed the most important wicket of Manoj Tiwary, breaking the the 60-run partnership he shared with Miller.
Dwayne Bravo - 7/10
Dwayne Bravo’s problems with economy rate continued in this match as he leaked 39 runs in his four overs at an economy of almost 10 an over. However, he claimed the two most important wickets of Miller and Nair. His yorker to dismiss Miller was deadly and he reminded everyone that his skills are not waning out at all.
Ravichandran Ashwin - 6/10
The Punjab skipper was out for a golden duck with the bat. However, he produced a crucial spell with the ball that could have proved vital if everything would have clicked together for them. He claimed the wickets of Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar at critical moments in the match. He ended up with bowling figures of 4-0-36-2.
Shardul Thakur - 6/10
Shardul Thakur was the one who brought an end to Punjab’s innings with the last wicket of Rajpoot on the fourth delivery of the final over. He registered bowling figures of 3.4-0-33-2 with his another victim being Axar Patel, who departed in the 17th over trying to accelerate the scoring with a big shot.
Manoj Tiwary - 6/10
Tiwary was allowed to bat at his preferred position in this match as he walked out to to the crease after Punjab lost their second wicket. He helped in bailing his team out of trouble along with Miller, stitching together a partnership of 60 runs for the fourth wicket. Tiwary contributed 35 runs off 30 deliveries to Punjab’s run tally and was dismissed caught behind off Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling in the 12th over.
MS Dhoni - 6/10
Dhoni walked out to bat at No 7 and didn't have much to do except finishing it off in style with a six off the last ball. He remained unbeaten on 16 off just 7 deliveries. Moreover, he was superb in the field with his wicket-keeping skills as he claimed three excellent catches in this match. As captain. he marshaled his troops very well.
Axar Patel - 6/10
Patel couldn't contribute much with the bat as he scored 14 runs at almost a run-a-ball. However, he produced an economical spell on a pitch that aided the pacers mostly and that was a commendable effort. He registered bowling figures of 4-0-28-0.
David Miller - 5/10
This was Miller’s third match of the season only after featuring in a couple of matches during the initial part of the tournament. He had a point to prove and it seemed like he could be Punjab’s hero in this match till the time he batted. However, he got cleaned up by Dwayne Bravo for almost a run-a-ball knock of 24 runs and thus landed Punjab in further trouble as they lost half of their side for just 80 runs with Miller’s wicket.
Mohit Sharma - 5/10
He started off well with the wicket of Rayudu and kept things tight. He mixed up his deliveries well. He bowled seam ups mostly even though slower deliveries are his forte. He had decent figures of 1/22 till his third over. But a six of the first ball of his fourth over by MS Dhoni to finish off the game damaged his economy rate a bit.
Harbhajan Singh - 4/10
Harbhajan was promoted up the order in this match to play the role of a pinch hitter. However, he struggled to play the role he was supposed to. He took 22 deliveries to score just 19 runs even though he had hit two boundaries and one six. He was dismissed lbw by Ashwin and hence Chennai’s experiment failed. Moreover, he had also bowled one over in the match which proved to be highly ineffective for Chennai as he conceded 13 runs.
Faf du Plesis - 3/10
The South African batsman tried his best to negate Punjab’s new ball burst. He even hit three classy boundaries despite all the odds being against the batsmen during initial overs. However, Rajpoot proved to be too good for him as he ended up giving a simple catch to Gayle. He walked back to the pavilion with just 14 runs to his name scored at less than a run-a-ball.
KL Rahul - 1/10
Rahul has been in superb form with the bat in this season. He is one of the top run-getters in the tournament and everyone was expecting him to come good in their do-or-die clash. However, he was ultimately cleaned up by a beautiful in-swinger from Ngidi, that swung in from outside off and went straight to hit the top of off stump. He was dismissed after scoring for just seven runs.
Chris Gayle - 1/10
The big Jamaican had been struggling with his batting form in the last few games after setting the tournament on fire in the initial matches. It was no different on Sunday as he got dismissed for a duck having gloved a delivery bowled down the leg side straight to the big gloves of MS Dhoni.
Aaron Finch - 1/10
Finch started off his innings with a superbly timed boundary. But he was totally squared up by a terrific out swinger from Chahar. The ball pitched on middle and off and took off from there swinging out viciously. It forced Finch to play at it, thus inducing the outside edge and going straight to the hands of Raina at slip. Finch was dismissed for just four runs leaving Punjab in trouble at 14/2.
Ambati Rayudu - 1/10
Rayudu, one of the top run-getters of the season again, didn’t have the best of outings in this match. He was tricked by Mohit Sharma’s length delivery outside off that swung out just enough to kiss the edge of his bat and the wicket-keeper making no mistake with the catch. A solitary run off three deliveries was all he could manage in this match.
Sam Billings - 1/10
Billings was another victim of the swinging and seaming conditions at Pune as he was out for a golden duck in this match. A length ball pitched on middle and off, nipped away just enough to beat Billings’ defence and crash straight into the top off off-stump.
Andrew Tye - 1/10
The highest wicket-taker of the tournament proved to be totally ineffective on Sunday. He couldn't pick any wicket and on top of that, he conceded 47 runs in his four overs at an economy of around 12 an over.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor