KXIP skipper, Ravichandran Ashwin © AFP
KXIP skipper, Ravichandran Ashwin © AFP

Match 38 of ongoing VIVO IPL 2018 saw a special knock from KL Rahul (84*) that took Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a 6-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Indore. The victory was set up beautifully by Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3 for 27). Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin was relived their batting order was tested in pursuit of 153, and that someone took the responsibility to bat deep. Ashwin went ahead to add that KXIP owe to their bowlers for attaining 12 points, so far, in the current edition.

KXIP had a long break before turning up in Indore on Friday, against Mumbai Indians. Ashwin admitted that there were nerves in their camp: “We didn’t play for some time and we hadn’t got any points over the last two weeks. There was a bit of nervousness and it’s glad to get two points. This win is good because we were tested in our batting. One of our batsmen batted deep and that’s what we’ve been asking for. We didn’t need a tight game to chase it down. That box has been ticked.”

Ashwin also lauded his bowlers: “[Our] 12 points have been set up by the bowlers. It’s pleasing. Good to know that one department is firing on all cylinders. We have options. Many of the batters are inexperienced and as the tournament goes on, I expect them to do better.”

Debuting as captain this season, Ashwin has won the hearts of a lot of commentators. He spoke of his innovative, often unpredictable leadership: “[I] Didn’t come with any expectations to be honest, didn’t come here to outdo myself or do anything special, just came here to gauge the situation and use the team in the best way possible. The most important thing for a captain is to rotate the bowlers well and pick the best combination possible, and to get the batting order right. I think bowlers will get hit in the format, the guys who let me down will win me games tomorrow, that’s the only perspective I came here with. Thankfully all of them are going well,” concluded the winning skipper.

With this victory, KXIP move to third spot in the table, a step closer to the Playoffs. Meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane’s RR struggle at the bottom. Is it all over for them?