When teams like KXIP and RPS play against each other, fans are surely in for a batting retreat, thanks to players like Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary with Pune and Hashim Amla, Manan Vohra, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller with Punjab. However, the encounter on Sunday turned out to be otherwise and bowlers from each side stepped up to keep the batsmen in control. Out of the 12 bowlers used by both the teams throughout the match, only 2 had an economy rate of over 10.
Batting first, Pune struggled to reach to 163 in the allocated 20 overs. Mayank Agarwal returned to pavilion in the very first over without scoring. Rahane too felt to make a mark and got out for 19. Punjab’s bowling was so disciplined that someone like Steven Smith scored at less than run a ball and MS Dhoni played 11 balls to make 5 runs before getting out. Ben Stokes hit 50 in 32 balls and Manoj Tiwary made 40 in 23 balls to help Pune reach a defendable total.
RPS’s bowling unit bowled well as a group and none of them went over 10 runs an over. Axar Patel was the most economical bowler and he gave 27 runs in 4 over and picked up the wicket of Ben Stokes. All the six bowlers, except Mohit Sharma picked up a wicket each.
KXIP had a brisk start to the chase with Hashim Amla and Manan Vohra adding 27 in under 3 overs. Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel, both were promoted up the order and both of them failed to capitalise on the start they got. In 12th over, KXIP looked a bit in trouble with 4 wickets down and 79 still needed. At that point, two T20 specialists from Australia and South Africa came together and made sure no further damage was done. They had a partnership of 79 runs in 7.5 overs. Captain Glenn Maxwell was the aggressive one with a strike rate of 220. He scored 44 runs in just 20 balls. David Miller supported the captain well and scored 32 off 27.
Imran Tahir once again turned out to be the best bowler for RPS, however, this time his team could not be on the winning side. His bowling figures were 4-0-29-2. Rahul Chahar and Ashok Dinda too picked up a wicket each.
A target of 164 was never going to be a touch one for a team like KXIP. Furthermore, contribution from each of their batsman made it look even easy. This was the first time Maxwell was the captain and surely, he has started on a great note.