The Punjab Kings (PBKS) were hit by a major setback ahead of their Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture against the Delhi Capitals (DC), with their skipper and top run-scorer KL Rahul ruled out with appendicitis. Even as new captain Mayank Agarwal grabbed the opportunity with both hands, a strong all-round showing from DC sent them to the top of the IPL 2021 points table.
Batting first, PBKS opener Prabhsimran Singh failed to deliver on his promise, as did the much-discussed Dawid Malan in his first game for the franchise. The collective failure meant it was down to Mayank to carry the team, which he did with a sublime 99 not out.
Despite his contribution, PBKS' eventual total of 166 wasn't much of a challenge for DC, particularly once 63 of those runs were polished off by the openers in the powerplay. Shikhar Dhawan stayed not out as Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Steve Smith and Shimron Hetmyer's contributions pushed DC over the line with more than two overs to spare.
Here are the three biggest reasons why PBKS lost to DC on May 2.
#3 PBKS' game-derailing batting powerplay
Teams in IPL 2021 have, on occasion, performed far worse than what PBKS did on the night. But their powerplay returns of 39/2 were problematic given the structure of the team, with nearly all the batting in today's game reliant on Mayank and Chris Gayle. The powerplay started inauspiciously, with a maiden to begin and a six-run over next.
Although Mayank and Gayle tried to push on, the latter was absurdly dismissed by a high-ish full toss that he completely missed. The loss of Prabhsimran and Gayle early pushed Mayank and Dawid Malan into a prolonged lull against the DC spinners, culminating in an embarrassing run-out as Mayank ran out of patience.
The game could have looked very different if there had been a reliable batting partner alongside Mayank.
#2 DC's superb opening partnership
Chasing 167 for victory on a pitch that looked a little tricky to bat on throughout PBKS' essay, DC needed a good start in the best phase for batting.
Luckily for them - and in stark opposite fashion to their competitors - the start was superb, with Prithvi Shaw appearing to continue from where he left off against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The unravelling for PBKS started with Riley Meredith and Mohammad Shami's opening overs, and continued even as Mayank changed bowlers twice within the powerplay. Shaw was the aggressor, with his 39 off 22 taking the game away from PBKS inside the powerplay alone.
#1 PBKS' star bowlers disappoint the team
Although Ravi Bishnoi was absurdly left out in PBKS' first few fixtures, he is an undeniable part of their bowling core along with Mohammad Shami and Chris Jordan.
The team has been torn between the underperforming duo of Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith. They've sided with the latter of late, and young Harpreet Brar appears to have claimed a spot too for now.
The problem for PBKS was the utter letdown from all other than Brar and the part-time spin of Deepak Hooda, as all the other bowlers went at 9.5 runs an over or more. After a few good performances, Bishnoi was taken for 42 runs off his four overs, while lead pacer Shami gave 37 off just three overs.
The failure of Mayank's most trusted bowlers meant PBKS were never able to consistently exert pressure, as each incoming batsman got to settle and push DC on their path to victory.