Kings XI Punjab displayed excellent cricket once again to beat Rajasthan Royals by 16 runs in Mohali on Friday. While explosive batting has been the trademark of this side, skipper George Bailey was pleased with the bowling effort from young guns Akshar Patel, Karanveer Singh and Rishi Dhawan. (Match report | Scorecard | Highlights)
In a match that eventually helped Kings XI Punjab book the No.1 spot in the points table, Akshar, Karanveer and Dhawan claimed seven wickets together. The raw force of the bowling might was such that even big-hitting Rajasthan talents like Ajinkya Rahane (23 off 26) and Shane Watson (0) failed to make an impact. (Match in pics)
"Karanveer was patient today and he bowled beautifully tonight. I thought Rishi and Akshar were excellent too," said a pleased Bailey at the post-match presentation.
Chasing 180 for a win, Rajasthan could have booked the final berth in the playoffs with a win on Friday. It was not meant to be as Punjab bowlers matched up to the batting exploits earlier to halt the opposition on 163.
Interestingly, Punjab did not even play their most successful IPL7 bowler - pacer Sandeep Sharma -- in this match. At 21, Sharma has claimed 17 wickets in the season so far. His absence from the match against Rajasthan though was hardly felt.
While spinner Akshar claimed three wickets which included the scalp of veteran T20 expert Brad Hodge (31 off 18), Dhawan was responsible for the two big wickets of Rahane and Watson. The other member of the terrific troika - Karanveer - not only claimed two wickets but also gave away just 16 in his four to choke Rajasthan's flow of runs.
It was an effort that even man-of-the-match Shaun Marsh acknowledged. "The bowlers were fantastic," he said despite his own batting efforts which saw him hit 40 off 35. "The ball was coming on nicely (but) full credit to our bowlers."
With the playoffs beckoning, Punjab would hope that their breed of youngsters continue to impress and fire the side to its maiden IPL title.