Lead image – AFP
Ravichandran Ashwin found a way to outwit Rajasthan Royals once again. Only this time, he did not need the Mankad.
The Kings XI Punjab captain was on top of his game with bat, ball and as captain, leading his team into the top four of the IPL 2019 table. Will they finally make it to the play- offs this year, without losing the plot inexplicably in their final lap, as they did last season?
The Royals, meanwhile, just cannot get it right this IPL season. They succumbed to their sixth defeat in eight games. It would seem the race to the bottom isn’t straightforward: while Royal Challengers Bangalore have staked their claim on the No.8 spot from the start, the other Royals are giving them a tight contest.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 16, 2019
The twin Ashwins: Jofra Archer was sublime, giving away just three runs in the penultimate over and finishing with 3-15, and captain Ajinkya Rahane would have been a happy man nearing the half-way mark.
Ashwin, however, changed the momentum – with the bat. He opened with a four and finished with a couple of sixes, his four-ball 17* in an 18-run final over taking Punjab to 182-6.
As Rahane said later, it was a total they should have been able to chase. However, the spin twins, R and M Ashwin, sliced through their batting, denying them a victory for the second time this season. Both gave away just 24 runs in their respective spells, claiming three wickets between them.
The skipper, in particular, was in exquisite form. His variations worked like charm and his bowling changes made instant impact.
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) April 16, 2019
Rahul Tripathi. The Rajasthan opener (middle-order batter?) has now struggled for two seasons straight, failing to replicate his heroics with Rising Pune Supergiant for the Royals. Granted, he has not had many opportunities at the top of the order. However, a few chances have come his way, and the 28-year-old has not made the most of them till now.
Take the Punjab game, for instance. Rahane, who has struggled for form this season as well, demoted himself to vacate an opening slot for Tripathi. While Tripathi managed to get to a half-century, he batted at a strike-rate of 111.11, almost playing a match-losing innings at the top of the order.
Is it time to give Manan Vohra a go?
What they said
“I worked on a lot of things, despite people actually calling me for trying too many things, I kept on going.”
– Ashwin, convincing people that the Mankad wasn’t his best idea of the season
What they didn’t say
“You’re welcome, and goodbye.”
– Rajasthan Royals, remembering they were not obliged to rehabilitate Steve Smith now that he’d made it to the World Cup squad, and promptly benching him.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 17, 2019
The Chennai Super Kings juggernaut takes on Sunrisers Hyderabad. A rematch of last year’s final – only Hyderabad look nowhere near like being table toppers this time.