Punjab Kings (PBKS) choked in unbelievable fashion to lose their Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) encounter against Rajasthan Royals (RR) by two runs in Dubai. Chasing 186 in match number 32, everything seemed to be going according to plan for PBKS until the torrid last over.
PBKS needed just four to win off the last over with eight wickets in hand. Kartik Tyagi (2/29), however, held his nerve in a sensational manner, conceding only one. Aiden Markram (26 not out off 20) managed only one off the first two balls, bringing Nicholas Pooran (32 off 22) on strike. The left-hander perished caught behind, trying to run Tyagi down to third man.
With three needed off three, Deepak Hooda missed a full and wide outside off stump, walking across to the off side. He was out next ball, edging a drive to Sanju Samson. The last ball from Karthik was a full and wide delivery to Fabian Allen, which the batter failed to connect. It was an unbelievable end to what was, for the most part, a one-sided contest, with the unfancied side ending up victorious.
PBKS’ last-over meltdown meant Arshdeep Singh's fabulous five-for and impressive efforts from openers KL Rahul (49 off 33) and Mayank Agarwal (67 off 43) went in vain. It is a loss that will hurt PBKS really hard.
Punjab had an eventful start in their hunt of 186 as skipper Rahul was dropped thrice, on 2, 29 and 31. RR benevolence in the field saw Punjab reach 49 for no loss at the end of the powerplay overs. Rahul got his first reprieve in the second over when Evin Lewis could not latch on to an uppish cut off Chetan Sakariya at point.
Riding his luck, Rahul tonked the young left-arm seamer for a four and two sixes in his next over. The first maximum was launched over the bowler’s head and the second over fine leg, the latter taking the PBKS skipper to 3000 IPL runs. RR had another chance to see the back of Rahul as he hit one towards mid-on off Chris Morris but Riyan Parag failed to judge the catch. Mustafizur Rahman was the unlucky bowler on the next occasion as Sakariya put down the PBKS skipper at short fine leg, going low to his right.
Agarwal, who had been rather quiet until then, opened up by picking up three consecutive fours off Kartik Tyagi in the eighth over. The first was an outside edge, the second was lofted inside out over cover while the third was creamed to long-on.
The Agarwal show continued as he clobbered Morris for two sixes in the 10th over. A length ball was launched over fine leg and another long hop was smashed in the same area as the PBKS opener raised his fifty in style. He also went past 2000 IPL runs during his terrific knock. The wet ball made matters worse for Morris. Two more fours came off loose balls as the over went for 25.
RR finally managed to hold on to an offering from Rahul on 49. The PBKS skipper mistimed a slower one from Sakariya and was caught by Tyagi at short third man, ending an opening wicket stand of 120. Agarwal followed his skipper to his dugout, slicing a tossed-up delivery from Rahul Tewatia to deep point.
Pooran came in and smacked a hit-me ball from Parag for six over long on. Pooran and Aiden Markram enjoyed themselves out in the middle, bringing up a fifty stand in 28 balls. It seemed only the formalities were left. But, not the first time, PBKS proved that they are experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
PBKS left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh claimed 5 for 32 as Punjab fought back hard to restrict RR to 185. Sent into bat after losing the toss, RR were well-placed for the final flourish at 164/4, with four overs left. However, they managed to add only 21 runs off the last 24 balls, losing their remaining six wickets in the process.
Arshdeep and Shami (3/21) were superb at the death as they did not allow RR batters to take the game away. PBKS were fantastic in the field as well, pulling off some excellent catches. Had it not been for the late fightback from PBKS, RR looked set to post a score in excess of 200.
Rajasthan had a rollicking start to the innings, racing away to 53 in five overs. Yashasvi Jaiswal (49 off 36) began by cracking Shami for a couple of boundaries in the first over. Evin Lewis (36 off 21) then got into the act by swinging PBKS debutant Ishan Porel for a six over mid-on. Lewis took a liking to Porel and crunched the nervous pacer for four fours in his next over, which went for 17.
The pacer allowed the left-hander to free his arms, either bowling too full or too short, and the West Indian accepted the invitation gleefully. It needed a sharp catch from Mayank Agarwal to end Lewis’ dangerous innings. Arshdeep broke the opening stand by having the RR opener caught at extra cover off a full delivery that was sliced to the fielder.
Jaiswal continued to attack PBKS’ bowling. He welcomed Adil Rashid to the IPL by reverse-sweeping him for four and then launching him for a maximum over long-off. There was some respite for PBKS and Porel as RR skipper Sanju Samson (4) slashed at a wide ball outside off and his opposite number pulled off a one-handed stunner behind the stumps.
Samson’s departure saw the in-form Liam Livingstone join Jaiswal. The English cricketer looked in ominous form as he paddled Arshdeep for a four and clonked him for a six over deep midwicket. Arshdeep had his revenge in the same over though as Livingstone (25 off 17) attempted another six over cow corner but found Fabian Allen, who ran to his right from deep midwicket and dived to complete a spectacular take. Arshdeep sent off Livingstone a flying kiss!
RR lost further momentum as a tentative Jaiswal fell one short of his fifty. He got a leading edge off Harpreet Brar, looking to turn one on the onside, and was caught at short cover. By this time, Mahipal Lomror had launched his innings with consecutive sixes off Rashid. He then demolished Deepak Hooda for 24 runs in the 16th over. The first two balls were length deliveries, which were easily dispatched over the ropes. Under pressure, Hooda bowled a couple of full tosses and Lomror helped himself to some easy runs.
The tide began turning in the 17th over, when Shami had Riyan Parag (4) caught at long on. Arshdeep then ended Lomror’s (43 off 17) brilliant knock, as the RR batter also holed out to long on. Shami dismissed Rahul Tewatia (2) and Chris Morris (5) in the penultimate over as RR failed to find the boundaries.
Arshdeep completed PBKS’ fine comeback by having Chetan Sakariya (7) caught and bowled off a slower ball before cleaning up Kartik Tyagi (1) with a yorker to complete a memorable five-for. Arshdeep’s effort deserved to end on the winning side. Alas, it wasn’t to be.
There were some highly impressive performances in the game. Arshdeep claimed his best figures of 5 for 32. The PBKS left-arm seamer copped some punishment early on but held his nerve and came up with a fantastic bowling spell. Mohammed Shami was highly impressive at the death to finish with 3 for 21.
When PBKS batted, captain Rahul and Agarwal featured in another century stand for the first wicket. While Rahul was dropped thrice, Agarwal was sublime during his fifty, playing some stunning strokes.
For RR, Jaiswal top-scored with 49 but it was Lomror’s 17-ball 43 that was the standout innings. Then, out of nowhere, Kartik Tyagi bowled that magical last over and walked away with the player of the match award.
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