Punjab Kings hold their nerve to beat Mumbai Indians by 12 runs; hand them 5th loss.
Couple of days after his Test captain Dean Elgar had issued a warning about future selection of players like him who chose IPL over country, Kagiso Rabada did what he does: winning matches for his team. He was one of many from South Africa who chose IPL over the Test series against Bangladesh and that hasn’t gone down all that well with Elgar and even the coach Mark Boucher. There must have been some pressure on him after those comments were splashed in the cricketing world but if it was, he didn’t show it. He first took out Rohit Sharma with the new ball, tucking him with a back-of-length kicker into his body, and then returned for a very special 19th over. Suryakumar Yadav on strike with 28 runs needed, and Rabada yielded a four first ball. But he recovered and removed Yadav off his fourth ball with a low dipping full toss that was hit straight to long-on. As ever, Rabada was fairly impassive, while Odean Smith, who took the catch, flung the ball down with great emotion. Perhaps, he was relieved that he didn’t have to bowl to Yadav in the final over. Last time he bowled the last over, Rahul Tewatia happened. Though Unadkat did slam a six first ball, Smith held his nerves to remove him to push Mumbai Indians to their fifth successive loss.
Captaincy seemed to take a toll on Mayank Agarwal’s runs as well as strike. Whereas in the last two seasons, he bragged a hitting rate of 147, this season, with the burden of captaincy thrust on him, he seemed to creak, managing just 105 in the first four excursions. All the while, he could hoard only 42 runs. But the 32-ball 52 against Mumbai could liberate him. While he has not rekindled the divine touch of the previous couple of seasons, he did emanate flashes of splendour. Force and not fluency predominated the knock, though a six off Tymal Mills down the ground deserved appreciation. A pitched up slower-ball it was, and in other times, he would have driven the ball down the ground for a single. But here, he just went through with the stroke, sledgehammering than stroking the ball. More like a right-handed version of Matthew Hayden. The six notched up his first half-century of this season, though he perished soon after to a familiar nemesis, a leg-spinner, Murugan Ashwin on this occasion.