Kings XI cruise to crushing win
This was one tall-scoring no-contest that nobody seemed to mind.
The crowd loved the barrage of big hits, Kings XI Punjab was pleased to post its highest tally in the Indian Premier League while a seriously-depleted Rajasthan Royals did not think too much of the 41-run defeat.
Centurion Shaun Marsh, fellow opener James Hopes and skipper Yuvraj Singh happily indulged in some huge hitting to raise the team’s score to 221 for three against a rival that happily experimented with everything — a new captain, a toothless attack and an inexplicable batting order.
The result was a near carnage at the PCA Stadium with the Kings XI trio hitting 14 sixes and 20 boundaries between them much to the delight of the home supporters. Rajasthan responded with eight sixes and 18 fours in its 180 for seven.
Marsh, in stupendous form since making his debut in the fifth match for Kings XI, smashed 115 to become the highest run-getter at the end of the league. He overtook Gautam Gambhir’s 523 from 14 outings to reach 593.
The Western Australian won his fifth Man of the Match award from 10 appearances. He unleashed seven sixes and 11 exquisite boundaries as he overtook his previous best of 84 not out.
He was out in the final over while trying for an eighth six. He received a standing ovation not only from the crowd but also Warne.
Yuvraj smashed three successive sixes of Siddharth Trivedi to show signs of running into form with a 16-ball 49 before being run out off the last ball of the innings.
If the battle between the top two teams in the competition turned out to be a no-contest, the think-tank of Rajasthan contributed a great deal to it.
With coach-cum-captain Shane Warne, in-form opener Graeme Smith and the competition’s highest wicket-taker Sohail Tanveer rested ahead of Friday’s semifinal against Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan looked far from the team that topped the league table.
Under the leadership of Shane Watson, the players looked out of sorts. Most players waited for instructions from Watson every time the left-right combination of Marsh and Hopes changed ends. Moreover, when the Kings XI’s assault was well and truly on, Rajasthan not only missed Warne the captain but also the crafty bowler that he still is.
Even when Rajasthan chased, it opened with Mohammad Kaif and Neeraj Patel sent in debutant and former Pakistan captain Younis Khan while holding back Yusuf Pathan. This reflected the approach of the host and it did not come as a surprise when the required run-rate kept mounting from the first over itself.
With the margin of victory being the only point of interest in the match, Neeraj helped himself to a well-made 57 with 10 boundaries before Yusuf Pathan played to his reputation and smashed three sixes and as many fours in his 39.
Kamran Akmal, too, indulged in some long hitting at Sreesanth’s expense — the 14th over went for 4, 0, 6, 6, 6, 1 — before falling to Chawla in the following over.