Cricket

IPL 2019, KXIP vs RR: Ravichandran Ashwin’s remarkable leadership brings Kings XI Punjab’s campaign back on track

  • Shubham Pandey
  • April 17th, 2019
  • 9:18:01 IST

Two back-to-back losses and Punjab appeared to have lost their way in the tournament. After suffering a narrow loss against Mumbai Indians and then going down to Royal Challengers Bangalore, all that the Ravichandran Ashwin’s Punjab wanted was a dull Rajasthan Royals to turn up at Mohali. Ajinkya Rahane’s side did not disappoint the home team. On Tuesday, they were listless, unplanned and mediocre. However, they were still needed to be beaten.

And here, we will talk less about mediocrity and more about superiority. That of Punjab and its effervescent leader Ashwin.

R Ashwin was adjudged the player of the match for his figures of 2/24 and scoring quickfire 17 in the last over of the Punjab innings. Sportzpics

R Ashwin was adjudged the player of the match for his figures of 2/24 and scoring quickfire 17 in the last over of the Punjab innings. Sportzpics

Into his second year of captaincy at KXIP, Ashwin is turning into a strong leader. After the win over Rajasthan, they climbed again to the third spot on the table with 10 points. Mind you, there are three teams with 10 points right now at this stage of the league and it is only Net Run-Rate (NRR) which differentiates between them. As mentioned earlier, losses can put you in a negative mindset and it could result in sides taking mindless decisions. Ask RCB, who still have not figured out their playing XI on a given day. A lot depends on who do you choose on that particular day in your team in this tournament than how successful your XI has been earlier. After witnessing two losses, one against Mumbai, which they lost courtesy of an onslaught of Kieron Pollard and next, against RCB, the worst team in this tournament so far, Punjab could have begun their slide down in the table. However, captain Ashwin was quick to make amends on Tuesday, making key changes in his XI.

He brought in David Miller (although he replaced Moises Henriques who got injured at the last minute), got rid of inconsistent Sarfaraz Khan; dropped out-of-form Andrew Tye and included Mujeeb Ur Rahman; gave a break to Sam Curran who looked off coloured in last two matches and introduced Arshdeep Singh to the world. In that way, he tried to fix the loopholes as reflected in the last 2 matches – strengthening the middle order, bringing in more spin options for middle overs.

However, all these chopping and changing would not have had any effect if the team had not shown any effort on the field. Again, Ashwin stepped up and made sure Punjab played with top-level energy on the field.

There were two key moments where Ashwin shone in the match and uplifted the spirits of the side. One, when his team needed a good finish in the last over, he came in and hit one four and two sixes to give the hosts momentum going into the defence of 183 runs. Two, when he threw the ball to the debutant and young Arshdeep Singh, asking him to deal with Jos Buttler, who is in great form. While he showed he was still a good batsman in T20s on one occasion, on other instance, he was a brave leader. The crucial figures of 2/24 off his 4 overs made sure the runs did not leak in the middle overs and with Mujeeb and Murugan Ashwin chipping in, Punjab had a sure grip on proceedings with the ball in hand. RR’s scoring rate of 7.68 and attacking shots percentage of 46 is a testament to the same.

When Ashwin led with such energy on the field, it rubbed on the team as well. They held on to their catches, fielded well and bowled with discipline.

With two more points in the bag, Punjab are a step closer to the last-4 finish. However, from here onwards, the competition is going to only get stiffer. To Ashwin’s encouragement, his openers continue to perform, spinners have been doing a good job and the fielding has improved for sure. If they could tighten the screws in the middle order batting and pace bowling department, Punjab will be a tough side to overcome. For now, the Kings from northern India have got their way back.

For all the latest news, opinions and analysis from IPL 2019, click here

For the full schedule, date, time and venue of all the matches of IPL 12, click here

Check out the full points table for IPL 2019, including holders of Orange and Purple Caps

Updated Date: April 17, 2019 09:18:01 IST

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

India vs New Zealand: Upbeat Black Caps eye history as Kohli and Co face selection dilemma in Mumbai Test
First Cricket News

India vs New Zealand: Upbeat Black Caps eye history as Kohli and Co face selection dilemma in Mumbai Test

India face several tough choices heading into the second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai, including choosing between Shreyas Iyer on the one side and Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara on the other.

India vs New Zealand: R Ashwin turns it on as hosts aim for four day finish against Kiwis
First Cricket News

India vs New Zealand: R Ashwin turns it on as hosts aim for four day finish against Kiwis

Ashwin's three quick blows left New Zealand tottering at 140 for five in pursuit of an impossible 540 on day three of the second Test in Mumbai on Sunday.

India vs New Zealand: Thought career was at crossroads last year, says R Ashwin
First Cricket News

India vs New Zealand: Thought career was at crossroads last year, says R Ashwin

Ashwin, who took his 419th wicket in his 80th Test to surpass Harbhajan Singh (417 in 103 Tests), said he thought his career was at a "crossroads" after India's New Zealand tour early last year.