Punjab Kings seal a thriller to make it two in two

Punjab Kings seal a thriller to make it two in two

Punjab Kings made it two in two with a five-run victory over hosts Rajasthan Royals in the first ever IPL game in Guwahati. It was PBKS’ first back-to-back win in a season since the start of IPL 2021 and at the center of this thrilling last-over win were half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Prabhsimran Singh, a four-wicket haul from Nathan Ellis and a steely final over bowled by Sam Curran.

Prabhsimran tees off, Dhawan steers PBKS

If there were doubts about the pitch in Guwahati’s first-ever IPL match, they were off the table within the first few overs. Prabhsimran Singh found his timing from the get-go, first driving Trent Boult uppishly through the covers and then laying into the bowling of KM Asif and picking 15 runs off his second over. Largely thanks to him, PBKS finished the PowerPlay on 63/0. Dhawan was off to the usual start we have seen from him. 30* off 30 balls. But once Prabhsimran was caught at long-off, thanks to a good catch from Jos Buttler, Dhawan stepped up to the challenge and raised a half-century off 36 balls, his 50th fifty in IPL. The PBKS captain eventually finished on 86* of 56 balls, with his reverse-paddled six against Holder standing out.

Ashwin & Holder shine, Chahal not so much

At the receiving end of PBKS’ charge was Yuzvendra Chahal, who finished with figures of 4-0-50-1. His only wicket, also his 171st in IPL, pushing him to second on the all-time list, came in the form of Jitesh Sharma in his final over. His spin twin had a very contrasting night, returning figures of 4-0-25-1. His most expensive over came in the PowerPlay but post that, he was difficult to get away. Sikandar Raza found out the hard way when he was bowled by a carrom ball. Jason Holder was also among the best bowlers on the night, his final two overs – both bowled at death – going for only 16 runs. He conceded only seven runs in the final over of the innings, keeping PBKS under 200 after looking favourites to go past it.

Ashwin opens the innings

Yes, you read that right. But what about Buttler? He came to bat at No.3 after needing some time to recover from a minor injury he sustained while taking a catch in the deep.

Was sending Ashwin up top the best option? Not quite; he got out for a four-ball duck and his promotion would have spectacularly backfired in the PowerPlay itself had Sanju Samson not come out and picked up a few boundaries. But it anyway meant that RR had players batting out of their position, including Buttler who was dropped on 6 by Harpreet Brar but couldn’t make much out of the reprieve, eventually falling to an inside edge that ballooned off his pad back to bowler Nathan Ellis.

Ellis cuts through the middle order

The Australian pacer finished figures of 4 for 30 on the night, starting the wicket of Buttler in his first over and adding the wickets of Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag and Devdutt Padikkal in the subsequent ones. Ellis used the cross seamers effectively on what was a good pitch for batting and made life difficult for RR batters, and in particular for Padikkal whose innings of 26 off 21 meant that RR lost all steam in the middle overs. The review taken by Padikkal for a wide down the leg side also denied his team to challenge a no-ball for height in the frenetic final few deliveries.

How did it get close in the end?

Shimron Hetmyer and Dhruv Jurel counterattacked and added quickfire 62 runs off only 27 balls when all looked done and dusted. It came down to needing 16 in the final over but Curran held his nerve under pressure and conceded only three runs off the first two balls. The pressure told on RR in the form of Hetmyer’s run out and once he walked back, that was it.

Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 197/4 (Dhawan 86*, Prabhsimran 60; Holder 2-29) beat Rajasthan Royals 192/7 (Samson 42; Ellis 4-30) by 5 runs

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