Indian Premier League

The Punjab Kings posted a thumping 54-run win against defending champions Chennai Super Kings at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday night. With this match, CSK were handed their third straight defeat of the Tata Indian Premier League 2022.

Ravindra Jadeja won the toss and opted to field first, putting the Punjab Kings to bat first. When the game began, heartbreak was almost immediate for the Sher Squad as captain Mayank Agarwal departed for four off two balls in the very second delivery of the game.

Star batter from the first two games, Bhanuka Rajapaska, was a victim of good fielding from Chris Jordan and MS Dhoni, making way for Liam Livingstone to join Shikhar Dhawan in the middle at 14/2 just after two overs. From then onwards, however, the Punjab Kings took off.

While Dhawan held one end up with a useful 33 off 24 deliveries, it was Livingstone who ensured the team’s run rate stayed over 10 for the longest period. His 32-ball 60 was laced with five fours and as many sixes, striking at 187.50. The duo’s 95-run stand came off just 52 deliveries, elevating the Punjab Kings to 109 at the halfway mark, which also saw the fall of Dhawan’s wicket.

Coming in next was Jitesh Sharma, who marked his IPL debut in style. Off the third ball he faced, Sharma hit Moeen Ali for a six, showing he was here to make a difference. However, while he got going, the team lost Livingstone to a flatter delivery wide outside-off by Jadeja, caught by Ambati Rayudu, who had dropped him at the same position less than two overs ago.

Sharma now had Shahrukh Khan’s company on the field, putting on a 24-ball stand worth 31 runs, before he was dismissed. This significantly slowed down the Punjab Kings’ innings, with just 33 runs coming off the last five overs, with a laudable 12 off eight from Rahul Chahar, which included a four and a six.

Despite slowing down in the death overs, PBKS’ total mounted to 180/8. And now it was the bowlers’ job to make the game their own. Debutant Vaibhav Arora began the attack with the ball, giving away only five runs in the first over.

Protea pacer Kagiso Rabada started the damage in the next over, taking out explosive opener Ruturaj Gaikwad for just 1 (4), while giving away just five runs. Arora then took out Robin Uthappa, for a mere 13 off 10 deliveries in his second over.

Mayank kept him on for an extended spell and Arora repaid the faith by taking the experienced Moeen Ali out next for a duck. Captain Ravindra Jadeja then followed suit, registering a duck off three deliveries, falling to Arshdeep Singh in the very next over.

Thus, at the end of the powerplay, the Chennai Super Kings were knee-deep in trouble at 27/4 with Ambati Rayudu and Shivam Dube at the crease, attempting a revival. Arora came back to bowl his last over of the day, and kept it tight to cap his fantastic debut with numbers of 4-0-21-2.

Agarwal then introduced Odean Smith to the attack, who struck almost immediately, as Rayudu gloved a vicious short delivery and the ‘keeper Jitesh Sharma’s right took a brilliant diving catch to send him back for 13 (21). MS Dhoni then walked in and played second fiddle to an attacking Shivam Dube.

The Dube-Dhoni partnership lasted 44 deliveries and added 62 runs to the CSK scoreboard. While the asking rate was always a tad bit too high, it became crucial for PBKS to break this partnership if they wanted to win the game. The big break came when the captain invited the star with the bat, Livingstone, to roll his arm over.

The English allrounder first dismissed Dube, who was on 57 off 30 deliveries and shifting gears. He then took out Dwayne Bravo with his next delivery, officially signalling the beginning of the end for the CSK innings at 98/7 at the end of the 15th over. He ended with figures of 3-0-25-2.

Rahul Chahar then finished things off, taking out Dwaine Pretorius in the 16th over and MS Dhoni and Chris Jordan in the 18th over to finish it off for the Punjab Kings. Once more, Chahar was impressive, finishing with 4-0-24-3. Liam Livingstone’s all-round exploits earned him the Player of the Match title.

This is only the second time since 2018 that the four-time champions were bowled out for 126 in 18 overs, and the commanding win spoke volumes of the work the PBKS team put in behind the scenes. Punjab went to 4th in the points table with the win, pushing the team’s NRR into the green at 0.238.