Two left-arm spinners took centre stage and held sway over the bat, and one among them in finger-spinner Axar Patel - thrashed around and in the wilderness in recent times - brought an end to Gujarat Lions’s winning streak in the IPL here on Sunday. Riding on his remarkable effort, KXIP won by 23 runs, defending a modest 154.
Turning up for the 38th time for the Kings XI Punjab side, the tall spinner benefitted largely from a trifle slow wicket. He played havoc with the forward defensive play of Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo in the seventh over, and then completed split-over hattrick in the 11th over, winning a decision from umpire Virender Sharma against Ravindra Jadeja. Like Glenn Maxwell, who probably wondered why Sharma had given him out and waited for a while, Jadeja too expressed surprise.
Patel’s first victim though was the mighty hitter Dwayne Smith, who after extracting heavy penalty off Sandeep Sharma with a four and six, was kept quiet on a surface that was used for the first time in the competition here (but overused from last October in the domestic tournaments). Patel was one of the four bowlers deployed in the Power Play by the KXIP skipper Murali Vijay and in that over, the Lions’ skipper Suresh Raina had collected off him a boundary, played inside out through extra cover. But once he returned with a slightly old ball, the local team’s batsmen seemed to be clueless; when he finished his quota of 4-0-21-4, he had plotted his team’s second victory in seven matches.
It was seamer Mohit Sharma who began the Lions’ decline, first ejecting Brendon McCullum in the second over with a ball that rattled the stumps and thereafter getting the better of Raina’ cross-batted heave and hitting the middle stump. Once the visitor managed to restrict the Lions in the Power Play, Patel took charge.
With legspinner K. C.Cariappa also holding his own, the target of 155 became a tall order to achieve for the home team.
If Patel showed his skills after ordinary efforts in the previous six matches (4 wickets at 34.75) , Shivik Kaushik, playing his second IPL match showed proof to an extent that he can puzzle batsmen with his left-arm round the wicket variety and end up with a few scalps.
Whoever spotted him turn out for Hubli Tigers in the Karnataka Premier League last season must have been impressed with Kaushik’s peculiar action that resembles that of former South African spinner Paul Adams. He may have come cheap at Rs. 10 lakh, but on a scorching Sunday afternoon at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, he provided succour to the Lions captain Raina when captain Vijay decided to go on a leather hunt and set up a 59-run platform in the first six overs.
Kaushik was introduced in the eighth over after local boy Jadeja dismissed Marcus Stoinis, undone when the batsman danced down the pitch too often. Kaushik removed left-hander Shaun Marsh flicking to short mid wicket and then immediately got a positive verdict from umpire Sharma against Maxwell.
These two wickets in a single over put the skids on the Mohali team. Kaushik's third victim was Vijay who had batted imperiously to make a 41-ball 55 with half a dozen boundary hits. David Miller, stripped of his captaincy after six matches, made 31 and Saha contributed a workmanlike 33. The 39-run partnership between Miller and Saha helped KXIP cross the 150 mark.