Dubai: Shikhar Dhawan’s historic hundred went in vain as Kings XI Punjab outplayed table leaders Delhi Capitals by five wickets for their third straight win to keep their play-off hopes alive in the Indian Premier League here on Tuesday.
Dhawan became the first batsman to hit back-to-back IPL hundreds with his unbeaten 106 off 61 balls being the sole bright spot in Delhi’s 164 for five. For a change, it ended up being a straightforward chase for KXIP despite a rare failure from their opening pair of K L Rahul (15) and Mayank Agarwal (5), who had done the bulk of the scoring for the team in the earlier games.
Nicholas Pooran (53 off 28) came up with another blinder of a knock and Glenn Maxwell (32 off 24) finally found some form to set up the win. Jimmy Neesham (10 not out off 8) hit the winning six as KXIP got home in 19 overs. With KXIP’s in-form top three gone cheaply, it was a stiff test for their shaky middle-order which came good on the night. Rahul mishit one to mid-on while Agarwal got run out after a big mix-up with Pooran. Gayle once again looked in ominous touch but departed soon after hammering Tushar Deshpande in his opening over that went for 26 runs.
R Ashwin found the Jamaican’s stumps with a slider. With KXIP at 63 for 3 inside the powerplay, it was left to Pooran and Maxwell to bail the team out. Pooran eased the pressure with another display of clean hitting. His blitzkrieg propelled KXIP to 101 for three in first 10 overs with only 64 to get from the last 60 balls. The West Indian was not able to see the team through but Maxwell finally got some runs under his belt to take the team close to victory.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan’s sensational effort took Delhi Capitals to 164 for five after his team opted to bat. His memorable innings included 12 fours and three sixes. It seemed he was batting on a different surface with the second highest score of the innings coming from skipper Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who made 14 each. KXIP bowled well at the back end of the innings to restrict DC to below 180 with lead pacer Mohammed Shami (2/28) being the stand out performer.
Fresh off a hundred in the last game, Dhawan began by slog sweeping offie Glenn Maxwell in the opening over. Shaw, who failed to get off the mark in the preview two games, perished cheaply once again, trying to smash Jimmy Neesham over extra cover when he was in no position to play that aerial stroke. Iyer too did not last long after getting off the mark with a lofted cover drive that went for a six with Delhi reaching 83 for two in 10 overs.
At the other end, Dhawan grew in confidence and an example of that was the way he drove a full ball from Shami over mid-off. The southpaw crossed the 5000-run mark in the IPL by sweeping leggie Ravi Bishnoi for a six over deep square-leg, becoming the fifth batsmen to do so in the tournament’s history. He got to his century, another landmark, with a double off left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh. However, he did not get the required support from the other end as Delhi ended with a below-par total.