Mujeeb, the all-weather specialist

Manjrekar: Mujeeb creating the same impact as Narine (2:53)

Sanjay Manjrekar picks 17-year-old mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman as the star of the match for his figures of 2 for 25 (2:53)

All-star of the match

Mujeeb Ur Rahman has already had a dramatic year full of unprecedented highs. In February, he bowled Afghanistan to the Under-19 World Cup semi-final in New Zealand. In March, he played in key role in helping Afghanistan clinch a 2019 World Cup berth. In April, he has been performing across India.

He has been able to use conditions to his advantage, in almost all his spells. New ball? No problem. He skids them through, bowls sliders with the front hand, mixes them up with ripping googlies and a mean straighter one. With the old ball, he hits the hard lengths and denies the batsman any room to swing through the hitting arc.

On Monday, Mujeeb was handed the final over with Daredevils needing 17 to win. This season has witnessed several death-overs specialists deviated from their plans, so to leave a 17-year old in the deep end was an event in itself. R Ashwin, who was constantly by Barinder Sran's ear in the penultimate over, wasn't in sight for the final over. By not giving him instructions and letting his own thoughts dictate the final over may have worked perfectly. How he didn't flinch despite conceding a six and a boundary as Daredevils brought the equation down to five off the final delivery spoke volumes of his temperament and skill.

The wow moment

Rishabh Pant can muscle the ball a long way. In his only previous exchange against Mujeeb, earlier this season, he was out second ball after being foxed by a googly. That was in the 14th over, with Daredevils looking for impetus towards the end.

On Monday, with the new ball skidding through, Pant had to exercise caution, but paid the price for not doing so. Mujeeb's first ball was a flick off the front of his hand, the turn back in just enough to find a massive gap between bat and pad to knock into off stump. Without cover, Pant was sucked into a drive and fell to the trap laid out perfectly. This exposed Daredevils' lower order.

The numbers

  • Mujeeb has now dismissed Pant twice in two innings. In Mohali, he was out second ball. On Monday, he was out off the first.

  • Mujeeb's heroics helped Kings XI Punjab defend the lowest score (143) so far this season.

  • Mujeeb's Smart Economy of 5.50 is second best this season, behind Sunil Narine (5.38) among bowlers who have played at least six games so far.

What they said

"We were more discussing what to be bowling, rather than who to be bowling. I decided Mujeeb will be bowling the 20th over."
R Ashwin executed as he had planned

"I thought the key to the defence of 143 was an excellent 19th over by Barinder Sran that gave Mujeeb enough in the bank to defend."
Harsha Bhogle