A resurgent Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on Tuesday comprehensively defeated table toppers Delhi Capitals (DC) by five wickets, despite Shikhar Dhawan's record consecutive century, to record their third consecutive win of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and kept their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs alive.
KXIP now have eight points from 10 matches and are placed fifth. Rajasthan Royals (RR), too, have eight points, but KL Rahul's KXIP has a better net run rate (-0.177) than Steve Smith's RR (-0.591) in the eight-team competition. Both teams are still to play four matches, same as No.1 Delhi, who have 14 points from 10 games.
Despite scoring a respectable 164/5 wickets, riding on opener Dhawan's unbeaten 106 off 61 balls (12x4s, 3x6s), DC were at the receiving end, thanks to some collective batting efforts by KXIP, especially Nicholas Pooran (53 off 28 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (32 off 24 balls).
Chasing the target, KXIP endured some early blows as in-form Rahul (15) and Mayank Agarwal (5) fell cheaply while Chris Gayle chipped in with 29 runs.
KXIP were 56/3 wickets in 5.5 overs before Maxwell and Pooran took control of the proceedings and repaired the damage with a crucial 69-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Just after Pooran notched up his half-century in the 13th over, Kagiso Rabada struck to dismiss the KXIP batsman. Pooran's 53, which came off 28 balls, was decorated with six boundaries and three maximums.
Two overs later, Rabada jolted DC once again, this time accounting for the wicket of Maxwell. However, it was too late for DC as Deepak Hooda (15 not out) and James Neesham (10 not out) didn't let DC make any further onslaughts and shared an unbeaten 20-run partnership to drive their side home with an over to spare.
For DC, Rabada picked two wickets for 27 runs while Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin settled with one each.
Earlier, Dhawan single-handedly took DC to 164/5 in the allotted 20 overs, thanks to his unbeaten blitzkrieg. In the process, the left-hander also became the only player in the history of the league to smash two consecutive tons. Dhawan's master class was laced with 12 boundaries and three hits into the stands.
Opting to bat on winning the toss, DC top order failed to fire. However, it was Dhawan, who kept his wicket safe and despite receiving little support from the others, showed grit and determination to lift his side to a fighting total.
DC skipper Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant were the joint second highest scorers after managing 14 runs each.
KXIP pacer Mohammed Shami once again impressed as he bagged two wickets for just 28 runs from his four overs quota while James Neesham, Murugan Ashwin and Glenn Maxwell picked one wicket each.