Mohali: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s aim was to take the game against KXIP deep and ensure a top-two finish for defending champions CSK once he realised that the KL Rahul blitzkrieg has sealed the deal for the home team.
Kings XI Punjab beat CSK by six wickets in the final group league encounter between the two teams. A team that enters IPL play-offs as either table-toppers or No. 2 would get two clear shots at summit clash qualification.
“If you can’t win a game, you make sure you get the opposition to get the runs in most number of overs. (Qualifying for top 2) Yes, and that’s something you have to keep in mind,” Dhoni said after the match.
“We want to win the game, but if the opposition does well, you have to quickly adapt and re-assess,” said Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony. CSK lost to Kings XI Punjab by six wickets after the hosts chased down the target of 171 runs in 18 overs. But CSK would be happy that with a net run-rate of +0.131 which is far better than Delhi Capitals’ +0.044.
Dhoni applauded his bowlers for pulling things back and not letting KXIP batsmen finish the game earlier. “The first seven overs, we were quite down, but then the bowlers were able to pull things back a little bit. They bowled well in the last 8-9 overs for us.”
The former India captain said KXIP put on a good batting effort. “You need to give credit to them. They bowled really well. We had to get a par score, but it was difficult with their three spinners…it was difficult to manoeuvre in the first 6 overs. Overall, it was a really good batting effort from their side. KL (Rahul, who scored 36-ball 71) batted really well and (Nicholas) Pooran towards the end was good with his lusty hits. We did whatever we could, it did not work for us.”
Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin is hopeful that the management will do its bit to ensure continuity as the formula of buying talented players with big bucks and expecting results rightaway doesn’t work in a top-flight league like IPL. Kings XI Punjab for the second season in a row have failed to qualify for the knock-outs but the India international spoke about retaining core team as any expensive buys can’t get results overnight.
“If you look at all the successful franchises, they retained the core they got, we really need to start producing players and have that core if you are actually going to looking at it take forward,” Ashwin said. India’s premier Test match bowler said. He is hopeful that things will change for the better next year. “And I think we are well on our way to build something special. We do definitely need a few more players to give us a lending hand, but we are very hopeful of what we have in store for us.”
Man-of-the-match K L Rahul admitted that he finally played freely as his team had nothing to lose with KXIP already out of the play-offs race. “I’ve been holding myself back till the last game, because my role was different — playing 20 overs and holding up one end. We knew there wasn’t much left for us in this game. But sometimes, you have to alter your game and play according to how the team wants, but I was playing much more freely. It came out very wel as my strike-rate was much higher. But looking back at it from a personal and team point of view, my strike-rate has dropped, but I have won more games for my team this year,” said the opener.
Kedar set to miss IPL play-offs
World Cup bound Kedar Jadhav on Sunday hurt his left shoulder while fielding during Chennai Super Kings IPL game against Kings XI Punjab here, with head coach Stephen Fleming virtually ruling him out of the play-off matches.
Asked if there was any update on Kedar, Fleming said “He is getting an X-ray and a scan. We are hopeful for him although I don’t think we will see him again in this tournament for us. He is in some discomfort, but we just need to be accurate with our assessments. Fingers crossed that it is nothing serious, but it did not look that good,” Fleming gave an open-ended reply.
It could be safely concluded that Kedar is not being risked as BCCI has blanket instructions that any injury to World Cup-bound players will be given utmost priority. With exactly a month left for India’s first game, the BCCI will not risk the veteran Maharashtra all-rounder, who is a vital cog in Virat Kohli’s Plan A for the World Cup.
Kedar hurt his shoulder while diving near the boundary ropes to save an overthrow in the 14th over bowled by Dwayne Bravo who failed to collect the throw from Ravindra Jadeja. Kedar was seen wincing in pain after the dive and walked over the boundary ropes to be attended to by CSK physio Tommy Simsek. He did not take the field for the rest of the innings with Murali Vijay coming in as the substitute.