KL Rahul playing blinders to score runs galore and yet Punjab Kings not making enough progress in the IPL has become a familiar occurrence. This season too hasn’t been any different. But then Rahul decided to end their league campaign differently. Thanks to captain Rahul’s blitzkrieg (98 not out off 42 balls) and their bowlers’ impressive performance early on, Punjab signed off with a bang, thrashing Chennai Super Kings by six wickets with as many as seven overs to spare in their final game of the league phase at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.
Opting to bowl first after winning the toss, quicks Arshdeep Singh and Chris Jordan’s early strikes had the Super Kings wobbling at 42/4 in the ninth over, a situation from which they couldn’t really recover. Courtesy Faf du Plessis’ 76, the Super Kings scrambled to a modest total of 134/6. But the Dubai wicket being much better for strokeplay, Rahul latched on to the opportunity to lead his team to a comfortable victory.
Barring Dwayne Bravo, none of the other CSK bowlers have passed their prime or are in the twilight of their careers, and that makes Rahul’s innings a more special one. Be it playing the pull, the lofted shots over mid-wicket or mid-off, or even the off-drives, Rahul creamed everyone, rendering the rival bowlers clueless. Such was his timing that even a paddle sweep-like attempt off Deepak Chahar sailed into the stands. The rhythm that Rahul, back to being the top run-getter (626) this season so far, is in at present augurs really well for Team India with not too many days left for the T20 World Cup, which will also be held in the UAE.
Punjab, though, have only themselves to blame for their inconsistency. If not for the mess they had made versus Rajasthan Royals, failing to get only four runs off the final over despite having eight wickets in hand, they would have been in a better position on the points table. As for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co., losing three matches in a row going into the play-offs underlines the chinks in their armor, which need to be addressed as early as possible.
KL Rahul played a stupendous knock and lighted up the Dubai Cricket Stadium with some firework as Punjab Kings inflicted third straight defeat on a hapless Chennai Super Kings in their IPL match on Thursday. Rahul made a light work of the modest total of 137 and tore apart Chennai’s toothless attack to steer Punjab to a six-wicket victory with seven overs to spare. With the victory, Punjab climbed to the fifth spot in the points table but they depend on the results of other teams for a playoff berth.
Rahul smashed an unbeaten 98 off 42 deliveries, hitting eight towering sixes and seven boundaries. How brutal was Rahul, it was evident from the fact that he added 46 runs for the first wicket with Mayank Agarwal in which, the contribution of the latter was only 12? The Punjab captain made his intentions clear from the word go as he took 11 runs off first over bowled by Deepak Chahar with the help of two boundaries. Despite the fact that two wickets fell in quick succession, Rahul kept on going at full throttle and there was no looking back for the Punjab opener.
In the process, he also scored the sixth fifty of the season and became the only batsman to breach the 600-run mark in this edition of the IPL. Earlier, Chennai, who seemed to have peaked too early in the tournament, now seems to be struggling when it matters the most. Their batting line-up has completely collapsed and all their top batsmen are struggling for the runs. Their middle-order looks completely out of color and not more than one batsman is clicking in a match.
Chennai is relying too much on the opening pair of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis. If one of the opening batsmen does not click, they struggle to reach a score of 100. Both du Plessis and Gaekwad have scored more than 500 runs each in the tournament and are at the second and third spot respectively in the list of the highest scorers. Du Plessis continued his stellar form and scored the fifth fifty of the tournament.