New Delhi: In a low-scoring game, it just takes a couple of wickets to turn things around. KXIP were restricted to a lowly 143 by DD and there was happiness all over the dug-out. But little were they aware that on a tricky Kotla wicket, even a score of 143 was equivalent to chasing 180. With the ball stopping and coming, and rearing up at times, Ankit Rajpoot (2/23) applied proper maths to strike twice, while Andrew Tye (2/25) returned with a couple of scalps to clinch the purple cap. The duo replicated Liam Plunkett (3/17), Trent Boult (2/21) and Avesh Khan's (2/36) efforts to stun Delhi at their home ground.
The hosts too lost three wickets in the powerplay and it was a huge treck upwards. They too went the KXIP way and lost wickets, failed to put up stands and fell short by 4 runs in the end. More than anybody else, it was heartbreak for Plunkett, who had brilliant figures of 3/17, as his efforts certainly put DD on track but the batters failed to do their job in the end. The script in both innings looked almost similar as it was DD pacers who dictated terms against Punjab and later, Punjab seamers replied in similar fashion. Barring Shreyas Iyer, batsmen from either side looked troubled on a dicey Kotla wicket.
Delhi have lost their fifth game in six matches and sink to the bottom of the table. They would need a miracle to qualify fr the knockouts as they will have to win at least seven out of their eight games. KXIP, on the other hand, have collected their fifth win and credit goes to the side for winning it without Chris Gayle.
Though Rajpoot and Tye turned out to be the architects of Punjab's win, it was Sran, who proved expensive in the middle overs, who bowled a tight penultimate over to give KXIP 17 runs to defend in the last over. Mujeeb Ur Rahman got hit for a six and a four but got Shreyas Iyer on the last ball when five runs were required for the win.
Shreyas Iyer showed resilience and stayed in the middle until the end. He scored a gritty 57 off 45 balls, and hence the reason DD could take the match that close. Until the 17th over, Iyer and Rahul Tewatia had forged a 47-run stand, which could have easily sealed the match in DD's favour but then Tye bowled a superb slower to induce an edge. Despite DD losing early wickets at the top, Tewatia's scalp proved the most crucial one. He was striking the ball really well alongside Iyer and they could have easily taken them across the line.
But it wasn't DD's night because Rajpoot gave them the opening blues. The UP pacer, who replaced experienced Mohit Sharma in the Punjab outfit was on the money. He took a leaf out of Liam Plunkett's spell, who had hit the deck hard but not too short to sow seeds of confusion in Punjab batsmen's minds. Later, he varied his pace with the old ball to deliver telling blows.
Rajpoot too started off in a similar fashion and stuck to just short of good length. The new ball did skid nicely on to the bat but he made sure he wasn't going fuller or too short. In his second over, he hit the same length as Plunkett bowled against Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw was caught in the same position. The end result on both occasions turned out to be exactly similar as Shaw too lost his timber.
That is what good bowing could do. Andrew Tye, from the other end, too followed on Rajpoot's footsteps and probed the same length. With Gambhir struggling with his timing, he got desperate and tried to tuck one to leg only to see the ball lobbing off his leading edge. This happened before Maxwell got out.
The next was danger-man Glenn Maxwell. He too sparked early on but Rajpoot kept hitting the deck hard. Maxwell had pulled Andrew Tye for a six but this time, the ball reared up to him and he couldn't complete the swing. The ball climbed high into the sky and Maxwell was caught.
Three wickets brought Punjab back in the game. Later, Rishabh Pant was foxed by Mujeeb Ur Rahman for the second time this IPL. He was castled. Then, Dan Christian ran himself out on the double. DD were going the same way Punjab went and needed stands to overhaul the target. Punjab too had lost opportunities to capitalise on the stands but Delhi weren't too far behind as they would rue the loss of one important stand that could have certainly got them back to winning ways.