West Indies coach Phil Simmons is not be concerned that the life-changing contract awarded to Sheldon Cottrell to play for the Kings XI Punjab in this season’s Indian Premier League (IPL) will impact his cricket.

Kolkata Knight Riders splashed out a record INR 15.5 crore for Australia star Pat Cummins in the IPL auction on Thursday.

Cummins had been the subject of bids from both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals before Knight Riders gazumped their rivals.

The deal, worth roughly $2.2million, makes Cummins the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history.

The top-ranked Test bowler previously played in Kolkata in 2014 and 2015, along with Delhi Capitals in 2017. He missed the 2018 tournament with Mumbai Indians through injury.

Cummins has 17 wickets, at a rate of 29.35, in his 16 career IPL matches to date.

He is joined at Knight Riders by England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, whose reward for 2019 Cricket World Cup success is a much-improved deal.

Morgan, who is set to lead England again at the 2020 T20 World Cup, fetched INR 5.25 crore - more than double his wage for Kings XI Punjab in his most recent appearance in 2017.

Meanwhile, Cummins was not the only quick to welcome a big contract on Thursday, as debutant Sheldon Cottrell went to Kings XI for INR 8.5 crore.

And Indians signed Nathan Coulter-Nile for INR 8 crore.

Rajasthan Royals brought Jaydev Unadkat back for a third straight year, this time for a more modest INR 3 crore having spent top fees on the 28-year-old at the past two tournaments.

Glenn Maxwell went to Kings XI for INR 10.75 crore, while Royal Challengers sent INR 10 crore to Chris Morris.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's impressive Indian Premier League resurgence continued with a fourth win in five matches as Virat Kohli's men defeated Kings XI Punjab by 17 runs.

RCB were deep in trouble in this year's competition as they began with six consecutive defeats, leaving little room for error in the remainder of the tournament.

But they have thrived under the circumstances and did so again at home to Kings XI, with a sensational unbeaten partnership of 121 off 66 from AB de Villiers (82 not out) and Marcus Stoinis (46no) stealing the show.

That carried RCB from 81-4 to 202-4, setting a target that Kings XI never truly looked like reaching as Umesh Yadav finished with figures of 3-36.

The visitors mustered 185-7 from their 20 overs, but the momentum they required deserted them late on.

 

FAST-STARTING RCB SOON SLOWED

RCB were sent in to bat first and initially looked set to continue their strong run in real style as Parthiv Patel and Kohli combined for 35 runs in the first three overs of the powerplay.

But Kohli (13), having already been dropped at the start of the second over, was soon snared by Mohammed Shami.

Parthiv kept chipping away for a time and reached an impressive 43 off just 24, yet his departure signalled the start of a tough stretch for the home side and they were reduced to 81-4.

DE VILLIERS FINISHES WITH A FLOURISH

De Villiers had let Parthiv do the heavy lifting in their partnership, but the South African responded in stunning fashion to losing three team-mates.

Some sublime big hitting included four sixes in five balls to bring up the century partnership with Stoinis, who was also in the mood for a slog, and RCB made 64 from the final three overs.

Kings XI set a good early pace to maintain some interest in the contest, though, reaching 101-1 through the first nine overs.

KINGS XI CANNOT UNDO DAMAGE

KL Rahul made 42 from 27 through partnerships with Chris Gayle (23) and Mayank Agarwal (35), but he eventually departed to Moeen Ali.

Kings XI's scoring rate did not quite reach the required standard, yet they were still in a position where a final flurry - the like of which De Villiers early delivered - might have stolen victory.

It did not materialise, though, with David Miller (24) and Nicholas Pooran (46) gone in the same over, before Yadav removed Ravichandran Ashwin (6) and Hardus Viljoen, who endured a torrid time with the ball, from consecutive deliveries.

Delhi Capitals secured just their second home win in the Indian Premier League this season, beating the Kings XI Punjab by five wickets to bolster their play-off hopes.

The Capitals had lost three of their previous four games at the Feroz Shah Kotla, including a 40-run defeat against Mumbai Indians last time out that saw them struggle to chase a target of 169.

However, they had no such problems in replying to the Kings XI's total of 163-7 on Saturday, a half-century up front from Shikhar Dhawan putting them on course.

While they rather limped over the line, not helped by losing two late wickets, captain Shreyas Iyer (58 not out) saw his team to victory with two balls to spare as he passed the personal milestone of 1,500 runs in the competition.

Chris Gayle had earlier blasted 69 from 37 deliveries but Kings XI failed to capitalise on the opener's onslaught, Delhi spin duo Sandeep Lamichhane (3-40) and Axar Patel (2-22) impressing for the hosts.

The Capitals now have 12 points from 10 games to sit third in the standings. The franchise have not finished higher than sixth at the end of the round-robin stage of an IPL campaign since 2012.

LAMI TO THE SLAUGHTER? NOT QUITE!

Gayle gave Kings XI early impetus in their innings, including finding the boundary four times in one over from Lamichhane during the powerplay.

Yet the Nepal international had the last word in his personal duel with the left-hander, benefiting from a relay catch in the deep as Colin Ingram cleverly threw the ball across to team-mate Axar before stepping over the rope.

The clever piece of fielding sent Gayle on his way, with Lamichhane also accounting for Sam Curran - deceived by a glorious googly - four balls later.

 

DELHI RUN INTO TROUBLE

Dhawan shared a 92-run stand for the second wicket with Iyer after cutting short his opening stand with Prithvi Shaw.

The pair had plundered 24 runs from the first three overs before a Dhawan drive to cover led to confusion. Shaw responded to an initial call for a single, only to be sent back. Stranded out of his ground, he could only watch on as Mandeep produced a direct hit.

There was also an unnecessary run out towards the end of Delhi's innings too, Axar colliding with bowler Mohammed Shami as he turned for a risky second. The contact, while minimal, cost him any chance of making it back, meaning his only delivery at the crease saw him score one run and yet still be dismissed.

Royal Challengers Bangalore avoided an unwanted Indian Premier League record by finally getting up and running with an eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab despite Chris Gayle's unbeaten 99.

Defeat for RCB would have seen them become the first side in IPL history to lose their first seven matches of the tournament, but they stopped the rot in Mohali on Saturday.

The in-form Gayle struck five sixes and 10 fours in a brilliant knock, KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh the next highest scorers with 18 as Kings XI posted 173-4.

Gayle would have been out without scoring in the first over if Kohli had reviewed when Umesh Yadav rapped him on the pads and the opener took advantage of that stroke of luck.

Kohli made 67 from 53 balls before AB de Villiers (59 not out from 38) and Marcus Stoinis (26no off 15) saw Bangalore home with four balls to spare.

 

 

GAYLE CASHES IN AFTER EARLY LET-OFF

Gayle should have been on his way when he was struck in front by Yadav but the finger did not go up and Kohli opted against a review.

That proved to be costly as the self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' cut loose, hitting two sixes off a Mohammed Siraj over which went for 24 runs.

The West Indies opener brought up his half-century off only 28 balls and, after being dropped by Kohli on 83, he finished one shy of a hundred after hitting the final ball of the innings from Siraj for four.

 

KOHLI MAKES AMENDS

While it was not a day to remember for Kohli in the field, he made amends with a typically brilliant second half-century of the tournament.

The India captain went through his repertoire of classy strokes and motored to 50 in 37 balls. 

He put on 85 with De Villiers for the second wicket before hooking Mohammed Shami straight to a perfectly placed Murugan Ashwin.

 

DE VILLIERS AND STOINIS FINISH IT OFF

RCB needed 46 to win off 27 deliveries when Kohli departed and De Villiers and Stoinis stepped up to see them home.

Stoinis breathed a sigh of relief when Ashwin put down a skier, then De Villiers added insult to injury by hitting the next ball from Australian Andrew Tye over the ropes in an eventful 18th over that cost 18 runs.

De Villiers got down on one knee to smash Shami for six leaving RCB needing only six off the last over and Stoinis dispatched Sarfaraz Khan's first ball for four and took two off the next to win it.

Kings XI Punjab will one eye nervously set on Windies star Chris Gayle who is believed to have suffered an injury during the team’s IPL encounter against Mumbai Indians on Thursday.

Gayle struck a 36-ball 63 but was eventually upstaged by regional teammate Kieron Pollard who scored an astounding 83 runs from 31-balls.  The 39-year-old opener is, however, more critically believed to have suffered a back injury during the match, the severity of which is yet to be assessed.

 “He (Gayle) said he twisted his back. We have to go check and how he is,” KXIP captain Ravichandran Ashwin said.  KXIP batting coach Sridharan Sriram also confirmed that the athlete had suffered an injury.

“He felt a twitch in the back – that’s what he said. We need to assess and monitor what he’s going to do over the next couple of days.”

Gayle did not take the field during Mumbai Indians’ successful run chase.  The big left-hander has been in fine form for both club and country scoring 223 runs in six games.  For the West Indies Gayle put in a sensational performance in the recent home series where he scored 424 runs in four games, which fueled a strongly contested 2-2 draw against higher-ranked England.  With the World Cup just a couple of months away the Windies will be hoping to keep their talisman in pristine condition if possible.

 

Stand-in captain Kieron Pollard led from the front in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday, helping Mumbai Indians make it three wins in a row with victory over Kings XI Punjab.

With Rohit Sharma rested due to a tight leg muscle, Pollard was charged with leading Mumbai and he did so with aplomb, hitting a stunning 83 to help secure a dramatic three-wicket triumph.

Pollard crushed a massive 10 sixes is in his 31-ball innings, but a loose hook to deep midwicket left Mumbai needing four to win off as many balls.

Rahul Chahar and Alzarri Joseph reduced that equation down to two off the final delivery and the latter produced the winning blow, a straight drive allowing the pair to scamper through and seal victory.

Pollard strode to the crease with his side 56-2 and in need of an injection of pace, and he duly delivered with a destructive display that saw Sam Curran take much of the punishment.

Hardik Pandya (19) offered him some support but poor decision-making from the Kings XI bowlers allowed Pollard to keep the home crowd believing.

Mumbai's successful run chase came after KL Rahul had reminded everyone of his batting talent with a first IPL century at the top of the order.

Rahul, as well as India team-mate Pandya, had been called before a Board of Control for Cricket in India ombudsman to explain controversial comments made on a television show.

Any possible disciplinary action did not weigh on his shoulders, though, as he hit an unbeaten 64-ball hundred to help Kings XI reach 197-4 from their 20 overs – ably assisted by Chris Gayle.

However, their 116-run opening stand was not enough as Kings XI slipped to a third defeat of the campaign.
 

POLLARD PUNISHES CURRAN

Curran had claimed an IPL hat-trick earlier in the competition but there were no heroics this time for the England all-rounder as Pollard targeted him.

The West Indian launched six maximums off Curran's bowling and added two fours to make it 44 runs in boundaries off the 20-year-old.

Curran – who was announced as one of Wisden's cricketers of the year earlier on Wednesday – finished with figures of 1-54 from his four overs – his worst of the campaign to date.

WINDIES STARS BRING THE RUNS

If Pollard's brutal display of hitting helped finish the game in style, Gayle's equally impressive knock had kicked things off beautifully.

While Rahul carefully picked the gaps, left-hander Gayle bludgeoned the Mumbai bowling like only he can.

His 36-ball 63 included seven maximums and looked like being another match-winning display until Pollard’s second-innings fireworks.

Kings XI Punjab picked up their second win of the 2019 Indian Premier League, with KL Rahul's unbeaten half-century guiding them to an eight-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians.

Having beaten Rajasthan Royals in their first match but then come up short against Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI chased down a target of 177 with eight balls to spare to make it two wins from three.

Mumbai posted 176-7 in their 20 overs, Quinton de Kock (60) making the most significant knock, while Mohammed Shami, Hardus Viljoen and Murugan Ashwin all took two wickets apiece.

In Kings XI's reply, Chris Gayle (40) smashed four sixes and three fours in a brisk opening partnership with Rahul (71 not out), who received good support from Mayank Agarwal (43) and David Miller (15 not out)

After a bright start from Rohit Sharma (32) and De Kock, Kings XI were able to halt Mumbai’s progress by dismissing the Indian opener and Suryakumar Yadav in quick succession.

De Kock eventually brought up his 50, his first of this year’s IPL, with a slog to long on that narrowly evaded Agarwal and bounced once before clearing the rope. Just as it looked as if the South African would kick on, hitting a wonderful six over square leg, he was gone, trapped lbw by Shami.

Yuvraj Singh was the next to fall, picking out Shami at square leg off Ashwin’s bowling, while Agarwal took a wonderful catch on the boundary to dismiss Kieron Pollard before Hardik Pandya helped propel his side to 176-7 with a hard-hitting 31 off 19 balls.

After surviving a pair of early speculative lbw shouts, Gayle fired Kings XI towards their target with a volley of sixes before holing out off Krunal Pandya's bowling.

With Rahul playing a watchful innings at the other end, the onus was on Agarwal to pick up where West Indies veteran Gayle left off and he struck a series of boundaries before being brilliantly caught and bowled by Krunal Pandya.

The 28-year-old’s dismissal roused Rahul, who upped the tempo and soon brought up his 50. With Miller providing support at the other end, the target was ultimately chased down with time and wickets to spare.

SPIN DOES THE TRICK

Just as it looked as though Mumbai could be on for an imposing total, with De Kock well set and Yuvraj finding his range, the two Ashwins, Ravichandran and Murugan, were able to slow up the run rate effectively, with the latter ending with impressive figures of 2-25.

Losing wickets in clusters slowed down the run rate effectively. Mumbai then subsequently failed to threaten when bowling and this ultimately led to their defeat.

KINGS XI VARY THE PACE

Despite his eventual match-winning knock, Rahul struggled to get out of the traps and it seemed as though the run chase was passing him by.

However, he was fortunate to have batting partners who were willing to take the pressure off him, with Gayle and Agarwal happy to take on the role of the aggressor.

Andre Russell produced another star turn to make it two wins from two for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and inflict further misery on Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin.

Ashwin made the headlines for the wrong reasons in Kings XI's opener against Rajasthan Royals, mankading Jos Buttler to secure the key wicket of the England star to help his side seal victory.

He has faced significant criticism in the aftermath and his team were comfortably beaten on Wednesday, thanks largely to Russell.

Player of the match in Kolkata's win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, Russell struck 48 off just 17 deliveries as the Knight Riders posted a total of 218-4.

Russell's innings featured five sixes and he was ably assisted by Robin Uthappa, who struck an unbeaten 67, while Nitish Rana hammered 63 off 34 balls.

Kings XI's response was underwhelming and, despite half-centuries from Mayank Agarwal (58) and David Miller (59 not out), their 28-run defeat was already sealed before the final over.

ASHWIN'S AGONISING SPELL

Though he did not court more controversy, it was a chastening spell for Ashwin as Kolkata set about posting a challenging total.

Ashwin finished with figures of 0-47 from his four overs, the skipper the most porous bowler of an attack that floundered throughout.

His final over saw him hit for a pair of sixes by Rana, who was the star of the show until Russell's stunning late salvo.


RUSSELL DELIVERS AGAIN

Russell struck 49 off 19 in the win over Sunrisers and was in the mood again as he punished the Kings XI attack.

The all-rounder's blitz featured a run of eight successive deliveries where he either found or cleared the rope.

His thrilling cameo helped push Kolkata past 200 before he was denied a half-century by a fine Mayank catch on the boundary.

Despite that disappointment, Russell's devastating spell at the crease proved enough to ensure the target was well out of the reach of Kings XI.

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni will go head-to-head in the opening game of the 2019 Indian Premier League as defending champions Chennai Super Kings face Royal Challengers Bangalore.

An eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad brought a third title for Chennai last year and they have assembled a star-studded squad in an attempt to retain their crown.

The IPL will act as a Cricket World Cup warm-up for some of the leading stars over the coming seven weeks, while there are returns for some controversial figures.

Ahead of match one, we run through everything you need to know about IPL 12.

 

When does it start?

Saturday sees the tournament kick-off in Chennai as the Super Kings host RCB, with the home side looking to win a seventh successive game against their opening-day rivals.

When is the final?

As well as hosting game one, Chennai will also provide the stage for the final on May 12, but there are 59 games to play before the showpiece contest.

Which teams are competing?

The line-up shows the same eight franchises that competed 12 months ago, although the Delhi Daredevils have renamed themselves as the Delhi Capitals for 2019.

What happened at the auction?

Two players topped the auction list in December – Indian seamer Jaydev Unadkat and compatriot legspinner Varun Chakravarthy.

Unadkat will turn out for the Rajasthan Royals this year – his fifth IPL team – after they paid an eye-watering 8.4 crores for his services, a figure matched as Kings XI Punjab secured Chakravarthy.

England all-rounder Sam Curran was the most expensive overseas player after he signed for Kings XI for 7.2 crores, while household names like Cheteshwar Pujara, Brendon McCullum and Alex Hales went unsold.

Who are the star players?

Chennai have the likes of Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson to choose from, while RCB will be led by India skipper Kohli.

The new-look Capitals have teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw in their squad, while Shikhar Dhawan has joined from Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah make up a strong Mumbai Indians line-up, while IPL legend Chris Gayle joins Curran at Kings XI.

Kolkata Knight Riders have big-hitter Chris Lynn within their ranks, while fellow Australians Steve Smith and David Warner return following their 12-month suspensions.

The duo will be eligible to compete for the Royals and Hyderabad respectively from March 29, when their bans are lifted.

England hopeful Jofra Archer joins Smith at the Royals, with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler for company. Meanwhile, Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan is one of Warner's team-mates.

Windies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite and the entertaining, emerging star, Shimron Hetmyer have been sold to the Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore, respectively in Tuesday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) draft.

Five West Indians have been retained to their various teams for the Indian Premier League’s 2019 season. 

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