Dubai: It was perhaps the most inexplicable batting collapse by Sunrisers Hyderabad which handed Kings XI Punjab their fifth win - and four on the trot - in Indian Premier League on Saturday night. A finish, which makes one wonder as to who writes the script for IPL.
When Manish Pandey fell to an absolutely stunning catch, taken at long off by substitute fielder Suchith off the wily Chris Jordan, the Sunrisers were still coasting at 100 for four after 16.1 overs. Six wickets to go, 27 runs to get in 23 deliveries with Vijay Shankar, one of the architects of their last win in a somewhat tight situation still at the crease and names like Rashid Khan, Priyam Garg and a quality allrounder Jason Holder to follow.
The unfortunate blow from a full-blooded throw by Nicholas Pooran, which struck Shankar when he was scurrying for a single, must have disoriented the allrounder a bit. He fell soon after in trying to negotiate the extra bounce from young Arshdeep Singh and was caught behind before the mayhem started. Altogether seven wickets were lost inside 17 runs - thanks to a fit of panic when all the following batsmen needed were to work the ball around for singles and pick up the odd boundaries.
The defeat will certainly prove costly for the 2016 champions, who will now have to win all their three matches - and with a decent run-rate - to reach the cut-off mark of 14 points and stay alive with a chance for the quarter finals. It’s a pity that just when the Hyderabad franchise looked a glavanised side on the basis of their last win, they managed to throw it all away in a space of three overs against Kings XI Punjab.
Does Kings XI Punjab then look capable of spoiling the party for Kolkata Knight Riders as the fourth team into the play-offs? The problem with both teams is that they have been blowing hot and cold with their batting, and it’s an issue which KL Rahul’s men have found no solution to yet. Yes, the addition of Chris Gayle in No.3 has given them more muscle at the top of the order and the ‘Universe Boss’ seems to have brought in a calmer approach, but the rest of the middle order is too dependant on Nicholas Pooran to anchor the innings as well as force the pace.
However, it was a relief to see Chris Jordan, often England’s go-to man in death overs, eventually having a regular place in the playing XI as the trio of their star man Mohammad Shami, Jordan and Arshdeep Singh seems to be quite a potent new ball attack. Murugan Ashwin, under-rated too often in the past, has been exceptional in bowling under pressure and his partnership with the talented Ravi Bishnoi can pose questions against the best of batting line-ups.
However, one hopes Kings XI Punjab does not leave it late time and again if they want to progress further.