IPL 2017, MI vs KXIP: When the going gets tough, Glenn Maxwell-led Kings XI Punjab get going
Had Punjab lost to Mumbai last night, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) would have automatically qualified for the play-offs.
Mumbai: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had an uphill task ahead of them as they took on table-toppers Mumbai Indians (MI) in Match 51 of Indian Premier League (IPL) - a clash which was another must-win tie for them. Under pressure, skipper Glenn Maxwell took their performance to another level by entertaining the crowd, who had turned up in big numbers expecting a win from the home team, with fireworks.
Prior to this game, Mumbai had lost just one match - against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) - at the Wankhede Stadium - which has been their fortress lately. Punjab's job was made even tougher as they were up against a team which had lost just three out of twelve matches in the competition thus far.
But Punjab showed a lot of grit and determination right from the word go.
Taking a leaf out of Kolkata Knight Riders' book, KXIP took a gamble as they promoted Wriddhiman Saha to open the innings with Martin Guptill. Saha, who scored a century in IPL 2014 final, played a sensational knock at the top of the order as he and Guptill added 68 runs in just 5.3 overs much to the surprise of his home team. Both batsmen showed positive intent and the idea would have been to make the best use of the powerplay.
After posting a huge 230-run total, Punjab bowlers didn't buckle under pressure as Mohit Sharma bowled a brilliant last over to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Unlike Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Gujarat Lions (GL), who failed to bring their campaign on track, KXIP deserve all the praise for bouncing back in the tournament.
After 10 matches, they had just eight points under their belt with four wins. Having entered a knock-out situation, Maxwell's men have won three consecutive matches in a row since then.
Had they lost to Mumbai last night, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) would have automatically qualified for the play-offs.
Unfortunately, despite a hat-trick of wins, Punjab are up against RPS in another must-win game, which is also their last league game in the tournament.
They would be high on confidence after their recent performances and Steve Smith's men will have to put a special effort to shatter their dream of qualifying for the play-offs on Sunday.