Shikhar Dhawan was adjudged Player of the Match even though Delhi Capitals lost to a resurgent Kings XI Punjab. The left hander is currently in a rich vein of form after having started the tournament slowly. He became the first player to score consecutive hundreds in the IPL and his unbeaten 61-ball 106 was also his fourth fifty-plus score on the bounce. The knock was so well-paced that though there were some notable contributions from the winning team, the adjudicators decided to go with the Delhi southpaw as the player of the game.
The 33-year-old, like his opposition on Tuesday, has found a new lease of life and become the most important batsman in that Delhi Capitals line-up. Dhawan’s revival, however, has coincided with the decline of the form of some of his mates but captain Shreyas Iyer quickly brushed aside the low scores from the rest as an “one-off”.
“I’m really happy for Shikhar Dhawan the way he’s been going – he’s really creating an amazing platform for us as a batsman,” said Iyer. “Definitely we should be knowing our roles pretty well and it’s just one game. Other than that I feel all the batsmen are in a really good frame of mind. Just a few matches here and there, it can go wrong, it’s a long tournament, fatigue creeps in. But keeping that aside I think we need to focus on our strengths and really work on them,” he added.
Dhawan was getting off to steady starts in the tournament but was not able to convert them into a significant score, getting out just as he was settling in. However, in the last four games he has carried his bat through in three of them and has also improved upon his strike rate.
“Shikhar Dhawan the way he accelerated after the first few overs, his mindset has been great throughout. He just needs that quick start which keeps him going. The way he planned out his innings was really amazing to see and we need these sort of innings from him in every game,” Iyer said.
With Dhawan well set and having laid the platform with some useful partnerships, Delhi Capitals were looking for a score in excess of 170 but Mohammad Shami ensured that they didn’t cross that mark with some incisive death bowling. The Indian pacer, who picked 2 for 13 in his final two overs, has been a revelation for Kings XI Punjab especially at the death. Not only did he match Bumrah yorker for yorker in the Super Over against Mumbai Indians but also equalled his India mate in the wickets picked at the death – both have 10 with Rabada leading the race with 13.
“We all know what Shami can do on a given day and he’s been doing that for many years now,” said KL Rahul. “I think the thing this year that’s been different about him is that he’s shown a lot more clarity, he’s put his hand up as a senior bowler. It’s important in the IPL that the internationals and the players who represent their country put their hands up and that makes the team environment a lot better and the youngsters can feed off that and obviously you start winning a lot more games.
“It’s great to see the way Shami has been bowling and touchwood, the ball is coming out of his hand as perfectly as ever. Hopefully he can get more wickets for the team and keep bowling the way he’s bowling,” said an elated Rahul.
The Kings XI Punjab skipper had more reasons to be happy as the pieces of jigsaw are falling in place at the right time. Chris Gayle has added some much needed confidence to the side, Shami has been phenomenal, Nicholas Pooran has started to deliver and Glenn Maxwell also found a bit of form.
The Australian allrounder has been persisted with even though he hasn’t contributed much with the bat. And his 24-ball 32 and a 69-run stand with Pooran was crucial for the victory against Delhi Capitals.
“That’s very, very important for the team and important for the individual as well,” said Rahul about Maxwell getting amongst the runs. “Obviously when eleven guys are playing not everyone is going to have a good day on the field. It’s important that the team backs the match-winners and we know what Maxwell can do. When he comes good he gives a lot of solidity to the team and he balances out the team really well.
“He’s a great team man, he bats, bowls and fields really well. So to have Maxi coming to form is a very, very good sign. He nerves a little bit as well. Every batsman loves to hit the ball and spend a little bit of time as well. He’s played a lot of cricket for a long time so he knew what he needed to do and was very clear as well. I’m really happy that he came good today,” Rahul said.