R Ashwin said Kings XI Punjab suffered not just a defeat against Mumbai Indians, when it looked like they were assured of a win on Wednesday, but may have also lost Chris Gayle to injury. Ashwin confirmed that KXIP’s in-form big hitter twisted his back during the three wicket defeat. The KXIP captain Ashwin rued that his side needed to be “steelier and smarter” than what it was.
Batting first, KL Rahul and Gayle gave the visitors a fantastic start for a 116 run opening wicket stand. Gayle perished after scoring 36-ball 63 but KL Rahul batted on to bring up his maiden IPL ton. He stood unbeaten on 100 after facing 64 runs. But their effort was not enough for the win with Kieron Pollard upsetting their celebration plans for later with a 31-ball 83 runs.
“He (Gayle) said he twisted his back. We have to go check and how he is,” Ashwin said of the 39-year-old destructive West Indian batsman. The news was confirmed by KXIP batting coach Sridharan Sriram. “He felt a twitch in the back – that’s what he said. We need to assess and monitor what he’s going to do over the next couple of days,” he said. Gayle did not take the field during Mumbai Indians’ successful run chase.
In another injury worry for KXIP, Ashwin said medium pacer Ankit Rajpoot, who went for 52 runs in his four overs while taking just one wicket, has a niggle too.
“He (Ankit Rajpoot) injured his finger in the first over. It was a big bonus that we got three overs from him in the powerplay. We were a bit up and down with our fielding and catching,” Ashwin said assessing the team’s performance after seven matches, four of them wins.
“Probably if we would have been sharper, we would have ended up on the right side. I think it was a defendable total. It was just about par. It is a hard defending ground,” said the senior off-spinner when asked whether 197 was a big enough total.
Ashwin felt the team lost their momentum after a great start but conceded that Pollard was the major difference between the two sides. “We were about 10s for 10-12 overs and then we lost a little momentum while batting which I feel was crucial for us. I thought we pretty good as a bowling unit in bits and pieces,” he reflected.
“At the end of the day Pollard batted beautifully and took the game away from us…We could have been a little more steelier and smarter with our plans,” he said.