George Bailey of the Kings X1 Punjab and Yuvraj Singh of the Royal Challengers Bangalore shake after the match in Dubai on Monday. (PTI Photo)
Few will be able to recall the last time when Virender Sehwag had showed such patience in a Test match, forget in successive T20 matches. The once upon a time swashbuckling batsman who in the past had got out close to landmark figures trying to go after the bowling irrespective of which format he was playing, on Monday while leading Kings XI Punjab’s moderate chase against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, was an epitome of concentration.
His 26-ball 32 with four boundaries was not an innings that would announce his return to form. Actually he was nowhere close. His sheepish smile trying to negotiate a short ball that hit his helmet and raced to the thirdman boundary told the story. But during his 13-over stay at the crease, just like in KIXP’s last match, Sehwag did show some intermittent sparks of brilliance.
But the end will definitely not impress Sehwag. He was given out caught behind while trying to cut a leg-break when replays showed he did not really nick the ball. The umpire must have been carried away by a spontaneous appeal from keeper Parthiv Patel.
In the last match against Kolkata Knight Riders too Sehwag, rather uncharacteristically, showed an urge to hang on to his wicket. He had scored 37 off 30 in that match. But one thing is gradually becoming clearer. He is looking to anchor the batting for Punjab and why not? With the likes of the brilliant Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the lineup, the Priety Zinta co-owned Bhangra boys are fast becoming the team to beat in the IPL so far. With five wickets in hand and nine balls to spare Kings XI Punjab recorded their fifth victory in five matches and led the table with 10 points, two more than Chennai Super Kings on eight.
A target of 125 was not going to bother KIXP, a team that had successfully chased down more than 200 runs against the CSK earlier in the tournament. But batting was gradually becoming difficult with the wickets getting slower by the day and the wear and tear only helping the spinners dictate terms.
In the first place, that KIXP would get such a target to chase itself seemed surprising, considering this match was tipped to be between the two most dangerous batting lineups of the tournament. After getting bundled out for 70 in just 15 overs in their last match against the Rajasthan Royals and immediately including Chris Gayle to open the innings, RCB did not show signs of improvement. A 20-run opening over with Gayle hitting two fours and two sixes off Maxwell finally came to nothing.