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IPL 2018: KL Rahul reveals strategy Kings XI Punjab used to nullify MS Dhoni

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) bowled the ball wide to MS Dhoni in the death overs of their IPL 2018 game vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and put the brakes on the captain’s assault, revealed KL Rahul.

cricket Updated: Apr 16, 2018 11:53 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Mohali
IPL 2018,KL Rahul,Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab wicket keeper KL Rahul (L) revealed the strategy they used to nullify Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni (R) during their 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL 2018) match at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on April 15, 2018. (AFP)

If Chennai Super Kings scored the required 17 runs required off Mohit Sharma’s last over vs Kings XI Punjab on Sunday in Mohali, it would have been one of the greatest chases of all the IPL seasons shepherd by none other than MS Dhoni—the best finisher India has ever produced. (MATCH REPORT) (HIGHLIGHTS)

However, Kings XI Punjab worked out a strategy of bowling it wide to Dhoni in the death overs and put the brakes on the Chennai captain’s assault. (KXIP VS CSK FULL SCORECARD)

Speaking after the game, Kings XI Punjab’s most consistent batsman KL Rahul said, “The plan was to bowl wide yorkers to MS Dhoni because he was struggling with his back and we felt like he couldn’t reach out to many.

“Whether good back or bad back, if you pitch it in his arc he is still going to hit it miles. It was good learning for our bowling attack. Like I said, it’s still early stages in the IPL, we will learn what lengths are good for our bowlers and they’ll learn from their mistakes,” Rahul added.

Chennai were chasing a stiff target of 198 runs and Dhoni played an unbeaten 44-ball knock of 79 runs, which got Chennai very near to the target.

“The back is pretty bad, but god has given me lot of power and I don’t need to use my back a lot. My arms can do the job. It shouldn’t be too bad because I know what happened, and when you know the extent of injury, you know how bad it is,” said Dhoni after the game.

READ | IPL 2018: Stephen Fleming all praise for MS Dhoni despite CSK’s loss to KXIP

“All the games have been close, which means the individuals in the team get to learn a lot, but yes, overall we need to improve. We have confidence in Ravindra Jadeja. Suresh Raina at the top of the order, one left-hander, and if we can have Jadeja as a floater... so if we can just give him the opportunity - which we haven’t so far - I hope he can come good,” added Dhoni, talking about the team combination.

Earlier, Kings XI Punjab were propelled by Chris Gayle’s fiery 33-ball knock of 63 runs. He along with KL Rahul added 96 runs for their team for the opening stand.

Throwing light on their opening wicket stand and what brand of cricket Kings XI Punjab are aiming at, KL Rahul elaborated, “The plan was very clear - the batsmen will keep going for the boundary and keep looking to get runs. We’ve said this before the tournament started, that that’s the kind of cricket we want to play - very aggressive.

READ | IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab’s Yuvraj Singh disappoints again vs Chennai Super Kings

“Sometimes, like in Bangalore, it may not come off but it’s okay, we’ll still keep going there and try to get boundaries and sixes. That was the plan.”

Praising Gayle, who was playing his first match of the season, Rahul said, “It is amazing news for our team and bad news for the other teams that Chris is in great form. He is hitting the ball well and we all know he’s a player who can win games single-handedly and demolish attacks on his day.

“That’s what he did today and we want him and expect him to continue this form forward, be consistent and get a lot of runs for us, because if he gets going there’s no stopping him.”

When asked the reason for letting spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rehman bowl only three overs, KL Rahul explained the rationale, stating “We were thinking that we will bowl Mujeeb against a new batsman. We were hoping that we would get Mahi bhai out somewhere in the 14th or the 15th over. Then, whoever came, we were holding him back for Bravo and the other batsmen to follow.

READ | IPL 2018: Rajasthan Royals’ Shreyas Gopal over the moon after scalping Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers

“He’s a mystery bowler, not everyone can pick him and for a new batsman it’s even harder. Mahi bhai had already played a couple of overs so we though we’ll maybe hold him back for later. If we somehow managed to get Mahi bhai out then he will come into the attack. We had already bowled Yuvi in the eighth or the ninth over, so one bowler could have gotten away with three overs.”

Kings XI Punjab take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in their next match to be played on April 19 in Mohali.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 11:51 IST