Pinpoint death bowling keeps Kings XI Punjab alive

Mohali—Fifty-four runs off 36 balls with eight wickets in hand should have been a cruise for Delhi Daredevils. Instead, they were undone by an outstanding display of end-overs bowling by Marcus Stoinis, Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma and Kings XI Punjab breathed life into a flagging campaign with a nine-run win, their third in nine matches, in Mohali.
Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Morris, capable of lusty hitting, were bested by a train of slow legcutters interspersed with quick short balls and excellent yorkers. Kings XI defence of 181 for 5 was all the more remarkable because they had to deal with dew as well. Daredevils finished with 172 for 5 to go down for the second time in three nights.
Quinton de Kock began the chase with a superb 30-ball 52. Neither the asking rate nor his missing the previous match had an effect on his approach as Daredevils overcame a slow start. The first four overs fetched just 23 runs, but by the time the opening stand was broken the score had swelled to 70 in 7.5 overs. De Kock’s enterprise – he brought up his fifty in 27 balls – allowed his partner Sanju Samson to settle in nicely.
Just as Kings XI were in danger of wilting, de Kock sliced Stoinis’ slower delivery to point. But with an in-form Karun Nair mixing singles with the odd boundary and Samson showing his first signs of attacking strokeplay soon after the strategy break – he hit legspinner KC Cariappa for a six over long-off – Daredevils went into the second half needing 91 runs with nine wickets in hand.
An older ball, however, gripped and bounced awkwardly from certain areas of the pitch and runs didn’t flow as freely as they had. Nair and Samson had to manufacture shots and Kings XI knew if they didn’t give them room or leverage in the final six overs, they still had a chance. Mohit strung three dot balls to Nair, who responded with an uncharacteristic swipe but David Miller, running to his right from long-on, dropped the catch. Three balls later, Miller redeemed himself and dismissed Nair with a tumbling catch at long-off, leaving Daredevils needing 48 off 27 balls.
Vijay brought his strike bowlers back for the final three overs. Sandeep went too full and was hammered for a four and a six by Brathwaite, but the seamer shortened his length knowing the square boundaries at Mohali were quite large. Brathwaite went for the pull instinctively, but found deep midwicket. Mohit gave away only three runs in the 19th over and Sandeep closed the game with a couple of yorkers in the 20th.
That Kings XI gave themselves an opportunity to defend a score which Vijay described as “above par” was courtesy Stoinis and Wriddhiman Saha.
Daredevils weren’t at their best in the field having opted to bowl.—AFP

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