Mohali madness, a KL Rahul show altogether helped his side Kings XI Punjab beat Delhi Daredevils by six wickets at the PCA stadium in Mohali to begin the season on a winning note for the newly appointed captain Ravichandran Ashwin. In what was a one-sided chase, thanks to KL Rahul, Kings XI Punjab never looked like they won’t make it past the target of 166 runs set by DD on the back of a solid display from skipper Gautam Gambhir. The Punjab brand of cricket, which has been imposed by Virender Sehwag over the past few years was at the display with Rahul spearheading the chase for his side, he did exactly what he had been sent for, played freely, thrashed bowlers mercilessly and set the tone for a comfortable victory.
KL Rahul hammered the fastest 50 scored in the history of the IPL, taking just 14 balls to reach the half-century mark in response to Delhi Daredevils’ 166 in 20 overs. Ashwin after winning the toss opted to bowl first, Gambhir played gritty innings to stay on the pitch and help his side reach a respectable total. However, Rahul came with different plans as we whacked the DD bowlers right from the beginning and continued his rampage despite the team losing wickets from the other end. Playing strokes flawlessly, the Karnataka batsman showed he can be destructive on his day. After Rahul departed on 51 off a mere 16 deliveries, KXIP were in a position from where they didn’t need to lose a sweat to win the game.
The required run rate was brought down from a close to 8.50 to a manageable 6.79 by Rahul who took on the opposition bowlers single-handedly without giving them any chances of bouncing back into the game. Karun Nair, KL Rahul’s Karnataka teammate who has enjoyed a terrific domestic season with his stateside scored a fabulous half century 50 (33) but failed to stay on the pitch to take his side over the mark. After he was removed by Daniel Christian giving away a catch to Trent Boult, Marcus Stoinis 22 (15) and David Miller 24 (23) won it for the Kings XI with seven balls remaining. It was certainly the kind of the start Ashwin would have wanted as he put one over Gambhir with a number of Indian stars dominating the proceedings.
Earlier in the match, it was Gautam Gambhir impressing on his home return as the Delhi Daredevils captain, he was right up there holding his ground strongly, the southpaw scored 55 runs off 42 balls with the help of 5 boundaries and a six. A controlled innings which ensured, DD didn’t succumb to the genius of Afghanistan sensation Mujeeb Ur Rahman who picked two wickets along with Mohit Sharma. Rishabh Pant also played a pacy knock of 28 runs in 13 balls. The left-hander looked dangerous but fell to Mujeeb for his hunger of going big, an irresponsible shot saw him getting caught by Andrew Tye who pulled off a superb catch.
Delhi Daredevils 166-7 (Gautam Gambhir 55, Rishabh Pant 28, Mujeeb ur Rahman 2-28) lost to Kings XI Punjab 167-4 in 18.5 overs (KL Rahul 51, Karun Nair 50) by 6 wkts.
Man of the Match: KL Rahul, for his sensational 16-ball 51.