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IPL 2017, Match 49, KXIP v KKR: CT Player of the Match – Rahul Tewatia

His miserly spell in the middle stages swung the game in favour of the Kings XI Punjab.

Rahul Tewatia of Kings XI Punjab
Rahul Tewatia of Kings XI Punjab celebrates fall of Robin Uthappa’s wicket. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

The first of three must-win games went in favour of the Kings XI Punjab, who did a mighty good job of defending 168 against dominant chasers KKR. Pinch-hitter Sunil Narine and the devastating Chris Lynn got KKR off to a flyer. The openers were in the mood to repeat their blitzkrieg at the Chinnaswamy.

Nevertheless, Glenn Maxwell used his spinners tactfully, and the one man who put his hand up for his skipper was Rahul Tewatia. His miserly spell in the middle stages swung the game in favour of the Kings XI. He managed to keep KKR’s attacking middle order down, which resulted in the required rate creeping over 10 runs an over. The Knight Riders never recovered thereafter, and the man who deserves the credit this evening is Tewatia. What he also deserves is the CT Player of the Match award.

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Cameo with the bat

Put in to bat first, the Kings XI Punjab hadn’t had the best of starts. They were struggling to find runs and were on course for a sub-140 total. A few hits from Maxwell broke that barrier. However, at the back end of the innings, Rahul Tewatia struck three useful boundaries to propel the KXIP total to 167. He finished on an unbeaten 15 off 8 balls, which, in hindsight, were extremely valuable runs for his side. His score was one more than the margin by which Punjab clinched the do-or-die game.

Debut game for KXIP

Playing his first game in the IPL this season, the youngster from Haryana was up against the likes of Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir, both prolific batsmen and clean strikers of the ball. The equation was clearly in favour of the Knight Riders at that stage. The moment the leggie began to operate, he changed the complexion of the game.

Tewatia bowled a brilliant first over in the context of the game, in fact in the context of any T20 game for that matter. The ball seemed to be stopping off the pitch as the leg-spinner bowled. He conceded a mere 4 runs off his first, leaving KKR a tad bit stifled. The spinners from the other end were instrumental in building the pressure, and Tewatia cashed it in his second over.

Feeling strangulated out in the middle, Gambhir tried to up the ante in the 10th. Targeting the leggie was the reasonable option, but all he managed to do was pick out deep midwicket. KKR would have still fancied a win with the likes of Uthappa, Pandey and Yusuf Pathan yet to come. Tewatia, however, ensured that Robin Uthappa had no contribution whatsoever, as he removed KKR’s strike batsman for a golden duck. His slog sweep required him to manufacture all the power himself. There wasn’t much elevation as well, but hats off to Axar Patel who took a screamer in the deep. Tewatia had bagged 2 in his second over.

KKR were in a bit of a wobble. Meanwhile, Tewatia only got better. He gave away just 4 runs off his third, as the Knight Riders suddenly found themselves needing 10 an over. The youngster finished with figures of 2/18 in his quota of four overs, a laudable effort from a bowler making his first appearance for the Kings XI Punjab.

Preity Zinta had every reason to shake a leg in the stands, as did the crowd at Mohali, with their team, still alive in the tournament. As for Rahul Tewatia, he will hope to deliver another muffling day with the ball and keep his team in the hunt for a spot in the all-important playoffs.

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