Kings XI Punjab ruined Shikhar Dhawan’s Indian Premier League back-to-back century celebration eking out a five-wicket victory over Delhi Capitals to keep themselves in the hunt for playoffs.
Dhawan became first batsman in the IPL history at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium but Punjab managed to contain Delhi Capitals to 164-5. West Indies duo Nicholas Pooran and Chris Gayle kept Punjab on the top and despite some late worries they reached 167-5 in 19 overs.
The victory lifted Punjab to the fifth spot on net run rate after they were tied on eight points with Rajasthan Royals. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings are further back with six points apiece.
The night would have been only about Dhawan who waited until his 168th match in the IPL and returned to his old franchise. But when the veteran Soutpaw got his first triple-figure score, he brought second in the trot smashing another century in the 13th season of the tournament.
Dhawan became the first batsman in the history of IPL to get his second consecutive century. Dhawan’s 61-ball 106 not out came three days after scoring 101 not out against Chennai Super Kings in Delhi’s previous game.
If the Delhi innings was all about Dhawan, Gayle made the impact in one single over smashing Tushar Deshpande for 27 runs in a single over to keep Punjab right on track on net run rate.
Punjab lost Gayle, bowled by R Ashwin, and then Mayank Agarwal following a terrible mix-up with Pooran to be 56-3 in six overs.
But Pooran compensated for Mayank’s run out smashing a 26-ball half century and sharing a match-winning partnership for the 69-run partnership with Glenn Maxwell. Pooran’s powerpack 28-ball 53 included six fours and three sixes.
Maxwell notched-up his tournament high score of 32 from 24 balls and despite his departure Deepak Hooda (15) and James Neesham (10) dealt with the remaining target sensibly. Neesham sealed the victory with a six off Daniel Sams who was in for South African speedster Anrich Nortje.
Dhawan, who began his IPL journey with Capitals (previously Delhi Daredevils) in 2007 before leaving for Sunrisers Hyderabad, had rejoined the franchise last season.
On Tuesday, Dhawan smashed 12 fours and three sixes and now has the second highest score this season with 465 runs. Only Punjab skipper KL Rahul is ahead of Dhawan with 540 runs with his highest score being 132 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Punjab had lost their first leg against Delhi in Super Over. Delhi have 14 points and will need to wait and do more to seal a spot in the playoff.