It was a case of too close yet too far for Punjab Kings in their first game in the UAE leg of the 2021 VIVO Indian Premier League, as they ended up losing by two runs against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday at the Dubai International Stadium.
Bowling first on the night, the Punjab Kings seamers started off well as the first three overs yielded just 23 runs. Evin Lewis though freed his arms against debutant Ishan Porel next up, picking up four boundaries in the fourth over.
The introduction of Arshdeep Singh however got Punjab the breakthrough, as Lewis was sent packing thanks to a fine low catch by Mayank Agarwal, with the Royals ending the powerplay at 57/1. Another splendid catch, this time by keeper KL Rahul, led to the batting side losing their second wicket as their skipper Sanju Samson was out for single digits when Porel returned to the attack.
Fellow opener Yashashvi Jaiswal though kept the scoreboard ticking for the Royals, as he picked up two sixes and a four against Adil Rashid. The southpaw then added a boundary apiece in the next two overs as well, as the team score climbed to 101/2 after 11 overs.
Arshdeep Singh once again managed to break the partnership for the Kings, as Liam Livingstone was out caught in the deep. New man Mahipal Lomror though went on the offensive from the get go as he took on Rashid, hitting the Englishman for two massive sixes on the leg side.
The 15th over once again brought with it a wicket, as Jaiswal was dismissed by Harpreet Brar just one shy of a maiden IPL fifty. Lomror though was unfazed by that wicket, as he went berserk against Deepak Hooda, plundering 24 runs off his second over, pushing the team score to 164/4 after 16.
Mohammed Shami got Punjab Kings back into the game, as he picked the wicket of Riyan Parag. That was followed up by another dismissal by Arshdeep, as the dangerous Lomror departed in the 18th over. Two more wickets fell in the penultimate over of the game, with Shami ending with figures of 3/21.
Arshdeep added further gloss to his spell, as he claimed his first ever IPL fifer, dismissing both Chetan Sakariya and Kartik Tyagi in the final over of the game. Conceding just 21 runs in the last four overs while claiming six wickets, the Punjab Kings pacers bowled exceptionally to restrict the Royals to 185 runs.
The very final over of the game, where Kartik Tyagi managed to defend four runs proved to be the turning point of the game.
In reply, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal started off conservatively, getting just 16 runs in the first three overs. Rahul though switched gears against Sakariya in the fourth over, smashing two sixes and a four to get the scoring rate back on track.
The Punjab Kings skipper was also offered a couple of lives, as he was dropped by Riyag Parag and Sakariya in the powerplay. Agarwal at the other end found his groove when the field restrictions were lifted, as he pummeled Kartik Tyagi for three consecutive fours, pushing the team score to 72/0 after eight overs.
The Karnataka batsman gave the full treatment to Chris Morris as well in the 10th over, getting two sixes and a four to get to his third fifty of the 2021 IPL season. The same over also saw Agarwal and Rahul put on their fifth hundred plus run stand in the competition, putting Punjab Kings in the driver’s seat.
Sakariya managed to bring about the breakthrough in his penultimate over, as Rahul was out one short of his fifty. Rahul’s partner Agarwal also fell in the next over to Tewatia, making for an interesting finish with the chasing team needing 59 of the last seven.
New players Aiden Markram and Nicholas Pooran calmed the nerves for the team, as they got a four and a six respectively off Parag’s bowling. Markram picked up another straight boundary to leave the equation at 39 off the final five overs.
Pooran then got the asking rate to less than a run a ball, getting a four and a six off Mustafizur Rahman’s third over. Markram picked up his first six of the evening shortly after, getting the equation down to single digits.
Kartik Tyagi though made the game interesting with a splendid final over, as he dismissed both Pooran and Deepak Hooda, leaving the Kings needing three of the last ball. The seamer then bowled a perfect yorker to Fabian Allen, giving the Royals a two run victory.
Punjab Kings play their next game on Saturday against Sunrisers Hyderabad.