Indian Premier League

The Punjab Kings’ quest to string wins together ran into a dead-end against the Rajasthan Royals, who chased down 189/5 with six wickets and two balls to spare in their Tata Indian Premier League 2022 match at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Despite a good show from Jonny Bairstow and a brave attempt to steer the match towards PBKS by Arshdeep Singh, the Rajasthan Royals held their nerve to register their seventh win of the season.

Captain Mayank Agarwal called it right at the toss and chose to bat first. Jonny Bairstow and Shikhar Dhawan opened for the Kings with a 47-run stand, before Dhawan departed for 12 off 16. Bhanuka Rajapaksa joined the English batter in the middle and added a valuable 27 (18) in a 42-run partnership before he was castled by Chahal.

Agarwal, who came in next, could only score 15 off 13 before holing out to long on off Chahal again. Bairstow, on the other end, found some fluency in his 56 (40), his first half-century of the season but he too fell soon after Agarwal.

The two new men at the crease, Jitesh Sharma and Liam Livingstone then put up a much-needed fifty-run partnership off just 25 deliveries. While Livingstone departed for 22 (14) in the penultimate ball of the 19th over, the youngster from Vidarbha played some amazing shots in his 38* (18), as he and Rishi Dhawan (5* off 2) closed out the innings.

Sharma’s stellar knock, which had four fours and two sixes came at a strike rate of 211.11 and was crucial in taking PBKS’ total to 189/5 in 20 overs, to keep the streak of high-scoring encounters against RR going.

The Rajasthan Royals were on the chase from the word go with Yashaswi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler taking the team to 46 in four overs before Kagiso Rabada nipped the Buttler innings in the bud. His wicket, for 30 off 16, made way for RR captain Sanju Samson, who kept up the tempo before perishing for 23 (12) with the team on 85/2 in the ninth over, miscuing Rishi Dhawan to give the Kings a crucial breakthrough.

Devdutt Padikkal joined Jaiswal in the middle and the duo shared a 56-run partnership, where they ensured the run rate was above nine per over, and the target within their reach despite Padikkal looking scratchy. Jaiswal, who was returning for his second match of this season, upped the aggression to reach 68 (41) before Arshdeep Singh served him a change of pace and his mishit found Livingstone at long-off.

That over from Singh came with a wicket and just three runs for RR, and with Padikkal and the new batter Shimron Hetmyer in, the Punjab bowler slowly tried to strengthen Punjab’s hold. The equation was down to 47 needed off the last 30 balls.

Padikkal and Hetmyer steadied the ship soon in a 42-run partnership off 27 deliveries, with the West Indian taking the lead as Rabada proved costly. Singh’s last over, the penultimate of the game started with RR needing 11 off 12 balls. He only gave away 4 runs for the wicket of Padikkal, who lobbed a full toss straight to Agarwal at cover to depart for 31 (32). Singh finished with 4-0-29-2, leaving 8 required off the last over.

Agarwal tossed the ball to Rahul Chahar for the final over with Hetmyer on strike. Following a wide call on the first ball, the Windies cricketer cleared his front leg and sent the next one for a maximum. Then a single took RR home with a score of 190/5.

Despite Arshdeep Singh’s well-executed yorkers and two tight overs, the Royals prevailed in the Saturday afternoon clash at the Wankhede to more or less confirm a berth in the playoffs. The Kings now go to seventh place in the points table with three games to find a way to qualify.