Mandeep Singh raised his bat and pointed his hands towards the sky as he completed his incredible fifty to script the victory of Kings XI Punjab in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Thanks to Singh’s gutsy knock, coming just three days after his father passed away, Kings XI Punjab were able to defeat Kolkata Knight Riders by 8 wickets with nine balls to spare. Singh learnt about his father’s tragic death on Friday hours before his team’s crucial IPL match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. He had to make a difficult decision to stay back in the UAE.
On Monday night, he raised his bat and pointed towards the sky to dedicate his knock to his Dad Hardev Singh. Realising that emotional significance of the occasion, Singh’s senior batting partner, Chris Gayle, rushed to him to place his arm around the batsman from Punjab.
Singh remained unbeaten at 66 in 56 balls while Chris Gayle was out for 51, which he took 28 balls to score.
Batting first, Kolkata Knight Riders were only able to put up a total of 149-9 in 20 overs. Shubman Gill made the highest 57 in 45 balls while skipper Eoin Morgan chipped in with 40 in 25 balls. Aside from Lockie Ferguson’s 24, no other KKR batsmen were able to reach the double-digit mark. Kolkata Knight Riders were lucky to amass 149 given that they had lost their first three wickets in the second over of the match when the team’s total was just 10.
Mohammad Shami was the tormentor-in-chief for the KKR as he picked up three wickets by conceding 35 runs. Chris Jordan and Ravi Bishnoi shared two wickets each.
Monday’s victory marked the fifth straight win for Kings XI Punjab, bringing them from the bottom of the table to a serious contender for the playoff stage now. They’ve now overtaken the KKR to occupy the fourth position in the points table.
Reacting to his side’s defeat, Eoin Morgan said, “Particularly here in Sharjah you have to counterattack if you lose wickets early. Disappointing our partnership couldn’t get more. When we were three down, it was about getting a partnership. We thought 185-190 would have kept us in the game, wouldn’t have been a match-winning total by any stretch. But we kept losing wickets. That’s the nature of the tournament. There aren’t many bad sides. Going into the last two, our fate is in our hands. If we win those two, we should be in a reasonably good position.”
His Kings XI Punjab counterpart, KL Rahul, said, “I am very happy. The whole team will be. we collectively decided to go out there and play positive cricket, and things can turn around. It is different persons putting their hand up at different times. Just happy that everything is coming together. Fingers crossed that we can win a few more games. The kind of toughness Mandeep has shown has rubbed on to other ways. I know he’s gone through some rough time. Everybody is emotional. Just to put his hand up, just to be there, just to finish off the game, makes us so proud. When we have Anil Kumble as coach, it is no surprise we are playing two legspinners. He always had that in mind. He has worked really really hard on them. And not just on them, but also those who haven’t played yet. Complete team effort, and a lot of credit should go to the coaches. Chris, it was a very hard decision not to play him, He is the hungriest I have seen in the last seven-eight years playing for different franchises. Running ones and twos. And you know how he keeps the dressing room upbeat. To do it over and over again, year after year… We will enjoy tonight’s victory, enjoy tomorrow, and then start thinking about the next game. One game at a time.”
Chris Gayle was declared Man Of The Match.