Despite a spirited fightback from their bowlers, Punjab Kings ended second best on Tuesday at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the 2021 VIVO Indian Premier League, as Mumbai Indians claimed a six-wicket victory. KL Rahul’s team fought valiantly to keep the game interesting till the final few overs, but ultimately Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard proved too powerful for them.

Batting first on the night, Punjab Kings didn’t have their usual opening pair as Mayank Agarwal missed out due to injury. Mandeep Singh deputised for this game, and started off positively hitting Krunal Pandya for a four through covers. 

KL Rahul from the other end also joined in the act, getting fours off Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah, pushing the team score to 35 for no loss after five overs. The final powerplay over however brought about the first wicket, as Mandeep Singh was trapped in front of the wicket. 

Kieron Pollard caused further problems to the Punjab Kings batsmen, as he dismissed both Chris Gayle and KL Rahul in his very first over. Things got even worse for the batting team, as new man Nicholas Pooran was foxed by a Bumrah slower one, leaving the team score at 50/4 after eight overs. 

Aiden Markram and Deepak Hooda however started the comeback for the Kings, with the South African smashing a four either side of the wicket early on in his innings. Hooda too made his presence felt, as he plonked Trent Boult for a massive six over deep mid-wicket, getting the team score up to 69/4 after 11. 

The duo continued to keep the scoreboard ticking, rotating strike regularly with the spinners operating from both ends. Punjab Kings upped the ante when Boult returned to the attack, as they picked up three fours off him to bring up a fifty run stand for the fifth wicket. 

Markram picked up his sixth four of the innings, hitting Rahul Chahar delicately on the leg side. The leg spinner however had the last laugh as he knocked over Markram the next ball. The wicket slowed down the scoring rate for Punjab Kings, as the next three overs yielded just 17 runs. 

The batting side desperately needed a boundary, and Deepak Hooda tried to take on Bumrah, but only found the fielder in the deep, as Mumbai Indians once again got a foothold in the game. The final over saw Nathan Ellis and Harpreet Brar score more eight runs as Punjab Kings ended their innings at 135/6. 

Turning Point

The 18th over of the chase saw Kieron Pollard score a six and a four off Arshdeep Singh, which ultimately put Mumbai Indians in the driver’s seat.

In reply, Punjab’s bowlers kept Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma under the cosh, conceding just 15 runs of the first three overs. The pressure was mounting, forcing Sharma to play a rash shot once Ravi Bishnoi came into the attack, only to find the fielder at mid-on. New man Suryakumar Yadav was also dismissed off his first ball, as he completely misread Bishnoi’s googly.

Those couple of early wickets forced Mumbai Indians to play conservatively, as they only managed 30 runs in the powerplay. Boundaries continued to be at a premium, as the asking rate climbed up to eight. 

The introduction of Harpreet Brar though gave the chasing team a chance to free their arms, as Saurabh Tiwary picked up his first six of the evening. De Kock also picked up a four on the leg side in the next over off Mohammed Shami’s bowling, but the seasoned pacer struck back by castling the Protean keeper. Tiwary though remained resolute from the other end, picking up his third boundary of the night by precisely piercing the infield, pushing the team score to 75/3 after 12 overs. 

The southpaw picked up a six off Bishnoi’s bowling as well a couple of overs later, putting Mumbai Indians in control of the chase. Nathan Ellis though brought the breakthrough for Punjab Kings next up, as the well set Tiwary was out caught behind. 

That wicket once again dented the chase, as the asking rate climbed to ten an over for the first time, leaving Mumbai Indians needing 40 off the last four. Hardik Pandya quelled the nerves for his team, getting a six and a four off Shami’s penultimate over. 

The chasing team got another big over to follow that up, as Pollard smacked a six and a four off Arshdeep’s final over to leave the equation at 16 off the final two.  Hardik Pandya then ended things with an over to spare, getting a six and two fours off Shami to help Mumbai Indians claim their fifth win of the competition.

Punjab Kings play their next match on Friday against Kolkata Knight Riders.