The Battle Of The Kings – Live Blog!

The Battle Of The Kings – Live Blog!

The last day of the group stage of the IPL is here. Today, the Chennai Super Kings will take on the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali, and Mumbai Indians will face the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede. While the former will not play a big role in the qualification of any team in the playoffs, it will decide whether CSK will stay in the top 2 of the table. The latter will be a very important game. As RCB, KXIP and RR have been knocked out from the race of the playoffs, the only teams in contention are the Sunrisers and the Knight Riders. The Sunrisers have played their 14 games and have managed to secure 12 points from them. The Knight Riders have played 13 games and they are on 12 points as well. Here’s the thing though. The Sunrisers have a much better run rate than the Knight Riders. So if KKR lose today, then SRH will make history by becoming the first ever team to qualify with just 12 points. But if KKR wins, then it will be bye-bye for SRH. Coming back to the evening game, I will be covering that game live on this blog, so stay tuned!

Hello and welcome everybody! The match will start in around an hour. I wanted to tell you guys about a patten that I have noticed this season. Till now, 6 teams have played their last home game. And all 6 of those teams have won the last home game! Today KXIP and MI will be the home teams. If both these teams win today, then it will be a clean sweep for teams playing for the last time at home this season. It would be the first time something like that would happen.

Well, the toss is done and KXIP have won it and chosen to bowl first. Generally in the evening games the team that wins the toss chooses to bat owing to the absence of the dew factor and also the scorching heat which tired out the team. Still, KXIP has made the decision so it must be right (Ha Ha)! I do not think CSK would mind batting first on this game at all. As for the changes, KXIP has a reputation for making too many changes, and they have made a change today as well. The youngster Arshdeep Singh makes way for another youngster Harpreet Brar. Since they are just playing for pride today, shouldn’t they have given chances to more youngsters taking out the people who have already proved that they deserve to be retained next year. But once again, KXIP has made the decision so it must be right (Ha Ha)!

Prediction

See, this is the battle between the top of the table and the bottom of the table. So I would really have to have a very solid reason to support KXIP. And that I don’t have. So I am going with CSK to win this match and cement their place on the Qualifier 1, and cement KXIP’s place at the bottom of the table.

The newbie Harpreet Brar has been called upon to bowl the first over. Getting a spinner on in the very first over makes quite a bit of sense considering both CSK’s openers are foreigners. A good move by Ashwin.

It is clear that KXIP are looking for a wicket right now. The bowlers are bowling attacking line and lengths, and the fielders have been set not to save runs but to get wickets. Unfortunate that this tactic is resulting in some 4s.

This game is the matchup between the team that gives the most runs in the powerplay overs and the team that makes the least runs in the powerplay. Should make for an interesting battle.

Watson has been highly disappointing this year with only one 50+ score in the whole season with a strike rate just above 100. Today too he is looking keen to get off strike and is trying to avoid facing more balls.

Du Plessis, like almost all the matches he has played this season, has gotten off to a good start and is looking in good nick. His aggressive batting has made up for Watson’s slow innings and has not let the run rate fall below 8.

Ashwin seems to have moved on from his strategy of attacking bowling. Three continuous pull shots have been played, but Ashwin has not brought on a square leg yet. All 3 of those shots could have ended up in a wicket had a square leg been present.

I think this over could have been given to a spinner. Mohammad Shami is their strike bowler and every over of his is precious. So his over could have been saved here. Plus, both these batsmen would find it hard to bat against the left-arm spin of Harpreet Brar, so that was certainly an option.

WICKET! Sam Curran rattles the off-stump Of Shane Watson. Watto just never looked settled and his painful stay at the middle has come to an end with an excellent delivery from the Englishman Curran. This player has a lot of potential. He could be England’s next Ben Stokes! Maybe better, who knows?

This wicket will give a lot of confidence to the home side. Next in the CSK lineup are Raina and Rayudu, both heavily out of form. So their wickets should be easy to get for the pace attack of Punjab.

Du Plessis has been showing signs of a big innings. But he is also a little weak against Ravichandran Ashwin who has come on to bowl now. Chris Gayle is standing at slip, which is a good move because Raina will be under pressure after failing to score many runs in the span of this tournament.

The first over after the powerplay has been given to Harpreet Brar. Now I normally criticise Ashwin’s captaincy but today his captaincy has been good up until now. Even though Raina might hit a few against the leftie, Brar night trouble Du Plessis a bit. Let’s not forget that his wicket is more important than a few runs conceded.

Raina, who usually fails to score much against Ashwin, is timing the ball well against him, and has not let Ashwin get on top of him. Great batting.

Harpreet Brar has been quite impressive today. Apart from that six he conceded against Suresh Raina, he has shown all the signs of a good spinning all-rounder with the x-factor of being a left armer.

Raina seems to have carried some of the form from the match against DC here. He is taking singles but hitting sixes and fours every now and then. Smart batting and a trademark Suresh Raina innings.

The first half of the first innings is almost over and I think both the teams will be equally happy right now. KXIP have not conceded too many runs and have managed to get a wicket. Meanwhile CSK will be happy because Raina has shown signs of a good, long innings and MS Dhoni is yet to come. Plus, they have the bowling to defend any score south of 150.

Andrew Tye has come into the attack. This year, he has been nowhere as effective as last season, when he was the top wicket-taker of the whole tournament. 3 wickets from 6 matches with an economy of 10.3 hardly reflects the mark of a star bowler.

Today too, Tye has started getting hit for boundaries from the very first over. He is bowling quite ordinarily and has allowed Raina to increase his score to 33 and become truly adjusted to the conditions.

Misfield! KL Rahul, a player who is known for his good fielding, has misfielded a Faf Du Plessis shot which has now resulted in a 4 instead of just a single. If KXIP lose this game by a small margin, this moment will surely be remembered. Ashwin won’t be too happy.

Quite a bad review from KXIP and Ashwin. There was a clear outside edge from the bat. The loss of this review can come back to haunt Kings XI later in the game.

FIFTY! Faf Du Plessis completes his second fifty of this season, the first coming against Punjab as well. He has played beautifully and has taken the game forward well. He has been successful in stitching an excellent partnership with Suresh Raina.

The run rate has slowed down a bit since Faf’s fifty. The run rate has got to be kept up. Now would be a good time to hit out or get out considering that MS Dhoni is sitting in the dugout and the run rate is south of 8.

FIFTY! Suresh Raina has picked up form right before the playoffs. This innings was a typical Suresh Raina effort. With a strike rate of 145, he has played at a quick pace without allowing the KXIP bowlers to get his wicket.

Faf has understood that this is the right time to accelerate now. With a 4 and a 6, he has made this Murugan Ashwin over the most expensive one of this whole innings. He is hitting the ball cleanly and with great timing. If he can stay till the end, he might just complete his century.

The first two balls after the timeout have been dispatched for fours by Faf Du Plessis. I’m sure the CSK think tank must have told Faf to change gears so that Dhoni comes in as early as possible with as many runs as possible already made. And a six off the third ball! Too good.

The next 4 overs should be bowled by Sam Curran and Shami. No one else. All the other bowlers will concede lots of runs. Curran has bowled maturely and Shami has used his experience to his advantage. Things that cannot be said for the other KXIP bowlers.

FAF DU PLESSIS! He is on his way to his maiden IPL century. 88 off 51. Looking invincible at the moment.

WICKET! And Sam Curran is the man who does the job once again. Suresh Raina walks back after his classy innings of 53. He won’t be too sad though as he has played in his vintage style and his dismissal will make way for MS Dhoni. What more do you want?

Bad decision here according to me. You can’t save an over of Mohammad Shami! Ashwin is bowling this over only to try and salvage a wicket here. A little bit selfish here from the captain.

Quite rare to see Dhoni fail to connect bat with ball on so many occasions. CSK’s Run Rate is declining in the death overs. Meanwhile Faf Du Plessis reaches 96 runs with a beautiful sixer.

WICKET! SAM CURRAN! Get this man a trophy! Faf Du Plessis falls to the nervous nineties and plays on a Sam Curran yorker to lose his wicket at 96. A great innings nonetheless. Applaudable.

Dhoni is playing like Vijay Shankar in the Nidahas Trophy final. He is just not able to get bat on ball. Quite opposite to what we have seen this whole season. Let’s see what the last over has in store for him.

WICKET! Mohammad Shami is using the size of this ground very well. Rayudu, who has played like a monkey being forced to hold a cricket bat this whole season, falls prey to a smart Shami delivery.

WICKET! Kedar Jadhav registers a golden duck as Mohammad Shami bowls a cracker of a delivery to crash into Jadhav’s middle stump. I can see all of Faf and Raina’s hard work going down the drain with this poor finish to the innings.

A beautiful Yorker from Mohammad Shami to end the innnings. The last over goes for just 5 runs. The last 10 overs showed just 51 runs being scored. A score of 200 was totally on the ranks here. Now they have finished with 170. It’s not that bad a score, and certainly defendable if you look at CSK’s bowling. But you can tire yourself thinking about what it could have been. Nevertheless I wouldn’t change my original prediction that CSK will win this game. They have a stellar bowling lineup and they can defend this total 9 times out of 10.

So here we go. The start of the second innings. Deepak Chahar as usual running in to bowl the first over. This pitch will suit his style of bowling. He would be happy to bag the wicket of KL Rahul, who is the second highest run scorer of the whole tournament.

An otherwise great first over comes to an end with a KL Rahul six off a pull shot. The next Over is being bowled by Harbhajan Singh, who is playing on his home ground. He has proven to trouble Gayle on several occasions. Might be the same story here today.

KL Rahul is going into he attack right away. He is a good player of spin and has dispatched his first ball from Bhajji into the stands. And the next ball too is left for the audience to catch. Terrific batting!

A very expensive second over. Bot the start Harbhajan would have wanted playing in his home ground. Chahar is now coming in to bowl and he too is hit for four off the very first ball. KL Rahul has been in the third gear right from the start of his innings. One more boundary! Poor bowling, great batting.

The start for KXIP has been a dream start. KL has hit every loose ball and made sure that it reaches the boundary, while Gayle has enjoyed the show from the non-strikers end.

Misfield! Bravo makes a misfield and gifts four runs to KL Rahul. He readily accepts it and also hits the next ball for a four. And the next ball! I tell you, KL Rahul is ON FIRE today! Playing at a strike rate of 250! And a 6 now! He will be pinching himself right now. This is like a dream.

FIFTY! K For Klass. What. An. Innings. Rahul reaches his 50 off just 19 deliveries. He has hit every ball off this over for a boundary except for the 5th one. Harbhajan Singh will be hiding his tears right now, because he must be crying with all the boundaries he has conceded.

It is not that often that we see Chris Gayle playing on 4 runs with his opening partner already on 50 runs. Just goes to show how special this know from KL Rahul is.

Even though Chris Gayle is playing quite uneasily, it would be very difficult now to lose this match from here for KXIP. Still, CSK has great spinners who can use the size of this ground to their advantage, so you never know.

Tahir’s spell will be instrumental now in the proceedings of this match. He is the only CSK bowler who is capable of turning the tide in CSK’s favour now.

Chris Gayle has joined the party now. With 16 runs off the last 3 balls of Imran Tahir, he is now taking forward the momentum that KL Rahul gave to the team earlier with his quickfire 50.

After Tahir, the second highest wicket taker of the whole tournament, failed to make an impact on the game, I don’t think any other bowler now has the caliber to take CSK to a win. If KXIP play smartly now, they can easily end this season on a high.

For CSK to move out of the top 2, KXIP have to chase this total in less than 14.2 overs and MI have to win the game against KKR tonight. If KXIP want, then they can chase it that quick. But I don’t think that they will try to do that because a few slip ups along the way could mean that KXIP themselves end up losing the game.

There you have it. Officially a victory for the Kings XI Punjab, but in a way, a victory for Chennai Super Kings because they will remain in the top two and play the Qualifier 1 in Chennai. Both Rahul and Pooran played wonderful knocks and from their team to victory. KXIP end their season as 6th on the points table, pretty close to their 7th position finish last year. CSK now will be very close to the final as they have the advantage of playing the Qualifier 1 in their home ground, where they have lost only one game this whole season. So, I think they will reach the final. Anyway, the next match will be one to watch. It is a quarter final in a way for the Knights who will reach the playoffs if they win today. So that’s it for today’s blog. Bye, thank you for reading!