Chasing 165 in an almost do or die encounter against the table-toppers, Delhi Capitals (DC) in Dubai, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) were off to a flyer but with the quick exit of Gayle and Agarwal, found themselves in a bit of a hole at 56 for 3 in the 6th over. Nicholas Pooran then not only resurrected the innings with Glenn Maxwell but dominated the match-winning 69-run partnership contributing 49 off 25 deliveries to the stand (Maxwell played second fiddle with a subdued 16 off 15) - not often does the batsman at the opposite end overhaul the performance of Maxwell at the other!
By the time Pooran was dismissed, he had scored 53 off 28 deliveries, which remained the highest score for his team in the match, and the team score was 125 in the 13th over. It was advantage Kings XI and they went on to register a five-wicket victory with an over to spare. The West Indian had produced a crucial high octane match-changing performance.
The striking feature about Pooran’s innings was his strike rate - of 189.28! If not the big scores, Pooran has consistently chipped in with cameo performances in the tournament that have added momentum to the innings, provided the necessary flourish in the middle and death and also helped others to build their innings around him. His 12-ball 24 came at a crucial stage for KXIP in their 177-run chase against MI - Pooran had come in at the fall of Gayle’s wicket in 10th over. He did not let the match drift away, attacked the bowling and took the pressure of KL Rahul who was anchoring the chase - the match ultimately ended in a tie with KXIP winning in a thrilling Super Over!
Pooran’s finest show of IPL 2020 came in a losing cause against SRH in Dubai. Chasing a mammoth 202, he came out to bat at 31 for 2 in the 5th over. He kept KXIP in the hunt till the half-way stage scoring 64 off just 24 balls in his combined partnerships of 74 with KL Rahul and Maxwell. He was the lone warrior in an otherwise pathetic batting display by KXIP. Pooran hammered 77 off just 37 deliveries - a knock that included 5 fours and 7 outrageous sixes! KXIP kept losing wickets at the other end and were folded for 132 - the next highest score in the innings being 11.
When others were struggling to put bat to ball, Pooran was annihilating the bowling attack to all corners of the ground in one of the greatest exhibitions of hitting in an IPL match!
His other contributions include a 17-ball 33 against CSK in Dubai, a 27-ball 44 from 39 for 2 in the 6th over against MI in Abu Dhabi and an unbeaten 25 off just 8 deliveries providing the late flourish against the Royals in Sharjah.
Pooran bats at the critical number 4 position for KXIP. He makes sure that the momentum is maintained, sometimes creating it himself by taking calculated risks which helps others like the likes of Rahul and Agarwal to play the big innings. While KL Rahul, Agarwal and Gayle get all the focus and attention in the KXIP batting line-up, the efforts of Pooran have not got their due - 295 runs in 10 innings at a stunning strike rate of 183.22. Just for perspective, Rahul has a strike rate of 135.67, Agarwal - 155.46 and Gayle - 134.17 in IPL 2020. His strike rate is the third-highest in the tournament (min. 100 runs) only after Kieron Pollard (200) and AB de Villiers (190). That is how destructive Pooran has been for KXIP!
He can be their playmaker and trump card as Kings XI continue their fightback!