On his home patch of Mohali, Shubman Gill played his best knock of this IPL season to down Kings XI Punjab and keep Kolkata Knight Riders in the Playoff hunt. His on-drive against Mohammed Shami in the third over of the chase provided confirmation to his talent. But the real showstopper was Gill’s handling of Ravi Ashwin. At times he toyed with the Kings XI skipper, who has 544 international scalps to his credit.
Gill’s dismantling of the offie was clinical. Defending 183, Kings XI were still in the game till the 12th over, Chris Lynn’s hitting upfront notwithstanding. Ashwin came in for his final over. His first three had been pretty decent — just 20 runs conceded. He began the 13th over with a tossed-up delivery, which Gill hit over long-on for a six despite not getting to the pitch of the ball.
It prompted Ashwin to do all sorts of improvisations in his run-up and loading. He stopped in his run-up but offered length outside leg. Gill got down on one knee and swept it over deep backward square. Ashwin yet again tried to switch his run-up, but lost control and bowled a wide. By then, the youngster had started to dominate him. A late cut to a short delivery outside off took Gill to his half-century in 36 balls. More importantly, 18 runs from that Ashwin over tilted the balance in Knight Riders’ favour.
Gill’s 65 not out off 49 deliveries ensured that Knight Riders would take their top-four fight to the wire. Spare a thought for Lynn too, who decimated Arshdeep Singh and took the attack to Ashwin, when the latter introduced himself inside the Powerplay.
Pooran and Curran
Knight Riders had an excellent start after Dinesh Karthik won the toss and elected to field. Sandeep Warrier came back brilliantly after conceding a couple of fours to Chris Gayle in the first over. The medium pacer first dismissed KL Rahul with a slower ball and then had Gayle caught at backward square.
Apart from a 46 against Royal Challengers Bangalore and a 10-ball 21 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Pooran didn’t have much to show for in this IPL. The 23-year-old from Trinidad is not a big hitter like Gayle or Russell. He relies on footwork and timing. On Friday, he timed the ball beautifully. That he picked the length early made his job easier.
When Harry Gurney bowled a slower delivery, Pooran picked it early and collected a maximum over deep mid-wicket. When Russell dug one short, the left-hander used the entire depth of the crease and caressed it over long-off; his favourite scoring area. Piyush Chawla bowled a googly and was welcomed with an 87m six. Pooran was reading the spinners out of the hand. His 27-ball 48 and the 69-run third-wicket partnership with Mayank Agarwal brought Kings XI roaring back into the contest.
Pooran and Agarwal were dismissed in quick succession. It stemmed the run flow. The hosts needed something explosive at the death to post a 180-plus total. Sam Curran, not included in the England World Cup squad, unleashed his full range. He stepped out to Narine but didn’t reach the pitch of the delivery. Curran waited a fraction and swung it hard for a huge six over wide long-on. He shuffled across to clip a slower delivery from Russell to the fine leg boundary. But Curran had saved the best for Gurney.
When the final over started, Kings XI were 161/6 and considerably below par. Curran laid into his compatriot — a 91m six and three fours took him to 55 not out off only 24 balls and the Kings XI to a fighting total.