KL Rahul struck his third fifty in four matches as Kings XI Punjab overcame Sunrisers Hyderabad and kept an unblemished record at home this season. Along with Mayank Agarwal who scored fifty runs himself, he put on 114 runs for the second wicket. The duo's effort almost went in vain as Agarwal, David Miller and Mandeep Singh lost their wickets in quick succession. But KL Rahul and Sam Curran batted sensibly to score the required 11 runs for victory in the last over.
Ravichandran Ashwin won the toss and put SRH in to bat on a wicket with a greenish top. Mujeeb Ur Rahman got an early breakthrough for Kings when he had Jonny Bairstow smartly caught by a diving Ashwin at short mid-wicket. The Punjab fast bowlers bowled well with Mohammed Shami sometimes bowling at speeds above 145 kph. They managed to restrain the SRH batsmen to just 27 runs at the end of the power play. A set Vijay Shanker threw away his wicket when he tried to guide an Ashwin ball down to the third man only to play it too fine for the wicketkeeper to take a catch.
Ashwin ran out Mohammad Nabi by a smart piece of fielding off his own bowling. He stopped a rasping drive by Warner off his own bowling and flicked the ball on to the stumps to find an adventurous Nabi out of his ground. SRH were now 80 for 2 wickets scoring at just above 6 runs per over. David Warner and Manish Pandey put together a 55 run partnership for the third wicket before Pandey tried to pull a Mohammed Shami short ball and was caught at deep mid-wicket in the last over. With Deepak Hooda rattling off 14 runs off three balls, SRH finished with a score of 150 for 4 wickets. Warner remained not out on 70 runs scored at an uncharacteristically low strike rate of 112.
Kings XI did not have an auspicious either. Gayle was just setting off when Rashid Khan came on to bowl. In the match at Hyderabad between the two teams, Gayle had plundered 42 runs off 16 balls bowled by Rashid Khan. This time though The Afghan spinner got Gayle off his first ball caught smartly by Hooda at long on to dismiss him on 16 runs off 14 balls. Then came the partnership between KL Rahul (71* off 53 balls) and Mayank Agarwal (55 runs off 43 balls). The two of them scored consistently not letting the asking rate too far from their sight.
KL Rahul, one of the aspirants for the Indian World cup team, did himself no harm by remaining not out the second time in the IPL this season. On the other hand, Vijay Shankar who is also hopeful to board the plane to Heathrow squandered a chance to impress the selectors after getting set. Though the selection committee and Virat Kohli have made it clear that the performance of the players in the IPL will not be counted when selecting the final team, a good performance in the last competitive matches played before the selections will always be noted.
KL Rahul, driving pulling and playing a few ramp shots negated David Warner's 70 not out with his own 71 not out. warner, however, leads the runscorers table having scored 349 runs in 6 innings while Rahul is placed third with 217 runs from an equal number of innings. Kings eleven has joined Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings at the top of the league with 8 points from six matches.