Power-packed Punjab cruise into play-offs

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Manan Vohra’s momentum saw Punjab through.

Kings XI Punjab became the first team to confirm their seat in the playoffs with a four-wicket win over bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils, but what should have been a comfortable chase turned into a scramble for the finish line. Against the best chasing team in the competition, Daredevils had to come up with their best batting effort but they frittered away a strong platform in the last four overs to post 164. Kings XI also suffered a few hiccups after a typically blistering start and despite experimenting with their batting order, got home in the final over with two balls to spare.

An impetuous shot by George Bailey – caught in the deep in the penultimate over – gave Daredevils a sniff and it came down to nine needed off the last over. Akshar Patel, the unlikely hero with the bat for Kings XI, was well set on 41 off 34 balls when Rishi Dhawan joined him. The pair ensured there were no dot balls in the final over from Wayne Parnell to pile on the pressure, and with four needed off three Dhawan pulled to the deep midwicket boundary to seal the win.

Kings XI’s openers, Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra blazed 67 off 6.2 overs with Vohra the more dominant partner. Vohra’s sixes down the ground stood out, particularly the back foot punch off Mohammad Shami that sailed over deep cover. But in trying to clear Imran Tahir, he found M Vijay at long-off and went for 42 off 19 balls.

It was another of those days in which Glenn Maxwell and David Miller failed. Both fell trying to attack the spinners – Maxwell off Tahir and Miller off JP Duminy. Kings XI were comfortably placed at 95 for 4 off ten overs but they yet again had a contingency in the event of a Miller-Maxwell no-show. Interestingly, Bailey promoted Akshar over himself and it wasn’t a bad ploy.

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