Manan Vohra is only 23 but has been part of the Kings XI Punjab set-up for five years now. While seen as a batsman of promise Vohra has, by his own admission, not converted his starts often enough. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday though, Vohra did just that, scoring at a much faster pace than any recognised batsman in the game.
His innings of 95 off 50 balls threatened to snatch victory from Sunrisers Hyderabad but his dismissal in the penultimate over led to Kings XI falling five runs short. Despite having rescued the chase of 160 from 82 for 6, Vohra was disappointed.
"We stopped them for 160-odd runs. I think that was really great because the wicket was a bit batting-friendly," Vohra said after the match. "We just lost our way in between, you know, in the early stages. But, I just prayed to God that we can go close from there. I got a great opportunity to finish the game, but I couldn't do that, so I am pretty sad about this.
"Today when I was in the thirties, I tried to focus a bit hard because this is the fifth year of my playing in the IPL and I have never been converting so well. I just wanted to bat around 14-15 overs. I knew that if I play 14-15 overs I would obviously convert the runs and we can get close to the winning thing."
After scoring 41 runs in the 15th and 16th overs, Kings XI went into the last two needing 16 runs with three wickets in hand. KC Cariappa was bowled off the first ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Vohra was lbw to the third delivery of the over - a low swerving full toss. Vohra said his brief had been to play out Bhuvneshwar's over.
"The message was very clear from the dressing room: just play out this over, you can charge in the next one," Vohra said. "I just planned that I will knock him around for the single, but unfortunately I just missed the ball and it hit the pads."
Vohra said the loss of opening partner Hashim Amla and captain Glenn Maxwell inside the first three overs had forced him to change plan. "I thought I was going to play my shots and if I can give a good start, we can be in a comfortable position after six overs," he said. "But, Hashim getting out early and Maxi getting out, I had to curb my game and knock it around for ones. Then, me and Eoin [Morgan] just planned to take the game to the 10th over and play normal cricketing shots, and then get the runs later on."
Had it not been for Bhuvneshwar, Sunrisers would have almost certainly suffered defeat. Vohra was his fifth wicket and he finished with career-best figures of 5 for 19 in four overs. "It was a satisfying performance personally and by the entire bowling unit. I did end up getting five wickets, but I won't take credit for the win," he told iplt20.com. "Everyone pitched in with good performances and was instrumental in tonight's win.
"In such thrilling contests, you do worry about fielding well and hope for the catches to stick. The wicket was not easy to bat on but David Warner played an outstanding innings and later Rashid hit a six in the last over, which was almost like game-changing for us."
Speaking about the penultimate over, in which he gave away only five runs and took two wickets, Bhuvneshwar said he had been ready for the challenge. "There wasn't much pressure on me because I have bowled in such situations in the past. I was mentally prepared to bowl the second last over and I had a clear plan when I ran to bowl.
"Vohra almost took the game away from us but I knew what I had to do while bowling to him. It worked well and thankfully we ended up with a win. Sunrisers are known for their bowling strength and defending low totals. Tonight was just an example of that and it was a complete team effort."