On Saturday, two bowlers in two ends of their careers were the standout figures. 38-year-old Harbhajan Singh, well past his prime and a familiar voice now in the commentary box during international matches, took two wickets and gave away just 17 runs in Chennai Superkings’ 22-run win against Kings XI Punjab.
In the second game of the day, 22-year-old Alzarri Joseph, who recently shot to prominence during West Indies’ remarkable Test series win against England, took six wickets to help Mumbai Indians blow away Sunrisers Hyderabad for 96 and win the match by 40 runs.
Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab: CSK were under the cosh in this match until spin trio consisting of Harbhajan, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja started working their magic. KXIP ensured that CSK had to work for their runs batting first and it was MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina’s late surge that helped them to their eventual total of 160/3. CSK also could not take frequent wickets but they ensured that Sarfaraz Khan and KL Rahul would take 93 balls to piece together a 110-run partnership.
KXIP started feeling the pressure in the 18th over and they crumbled. Rahul was dismissed for 55 and Sarfaraz for 67 and Kings XI Punjab were restricted to 138/5. Scott Kuggeleijn and Deepak Chahar reaped the benefits in this period but the screws were tightened in the overs before that by the spinners. Harbhajan, who took the wickets of Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal, ended with figures of 2/17.
Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Mumbai Indians: It was raining in Hyderabad on the day of the match and while the weather did not cause any problems for the schedule of the game itself, it seems to have had an effect on the conditions. Runs came at a premium and pacers from both sides were making batsmen dance to their tunes. But at the end of it all, it was only Alzarri Joseph’s name mattered. Yes, Mumbai Indians would not have reached their measly total of 136 had it not been for Kieron Pollard scorching 39 runs off the last two overs. But what Joseph did later was so extraordinary that mention of any other match event should come on a different storyboard.
Joseph gave an early sign of what he could do when he cleaned up David Warner, a man who had scored 264 runs in the last four matches, off his very first ball of the match. He had replaced Lasith Malinga in the Mumbai Indians playing XI against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday and ended up doing far more than just filling the veteran Sri Lankan’s boots. He led the way as MI dismissed SRH for 96 and won the game by 40 runs. Joseph became only the third player to take six wickets in an IPL match and his figures of 6/12.