The Punjab Kings lost a closely fought game against the Gujarat Titans at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium on Friday, April 8 2022. The Titans may have won the match by six wickets, but needed a last-ball six to actually seal the game.
Liam Livingstone top-scored for the PBKS with 64 (27), while Kagiso Rabada was the best performer for the Kings with the ball, picking both openers’ wickets.
Winning the toss, the Gujarat Titans put the Punjab Kings in to bat first. What ensued was a roller-coaster of an innings. In the first two overs, the team lost the all-important wicket of Mayank Agarwal with just 11 runs on the board. Shikhar Dhawan, the other opener, was joined by debutant Jonny Bairstow who soon departed for a run-a-ball eight, leaving the team at 34/2 in under five overs.
The hero against the Chennai Super Kings, Liam Livingstone, announced his arrival with a boundary, setting the tone for the innings he would play. He and Dhawan stitched together a 52-run stand in 32 deliveries to put Punjab right back into the game. Dhawan’s innings came to an end at 35 (30) when he faintly edged a Rashid Khan delivery to Matthew Wade behind the stumps.
Livingstone was comfortably hitting the ball around the field, and brought up his second half century in as many games off just 21 deliveries. He got to the mark with a massive maximum off Rahul Tewatia in a 24-run over that saw three sixes, a dropped catch and a four.
Livingstone’s partner-in-crime at this point was the hard-hitting Jitesh Sharma, who freed his arms quickly for a four. He contributed to two of the three sixes in that big over from Tewatia, and was the one who was given a life too. However, his brave 23 (11) came at an end against Darshan Nalkande, who took him and the next batter, Odean Smith, out with back-to-back deliveries to steer the game back in GT’s favour at 124/5 in the 14th over.
However, the danger persisted for the Titans till Livingstone stayed at the crease. His stellar 64 off 27 came to an end against Rashid Khan in the 16th over with the scorecard reading 153/6. It was followed by Shahrukh Khan’s wicket, leaving the team at 155/7 at the end of it. This over cut down the Kings’ momentum, with Rashid Khan giving away just three runs and picking two important wickets.
From there on, PBKS’ tail did its best to keep the run rate close to 10. Rahul Chahar’s cameo of 22* (14) and Arshdeep Singh’s 10* (5) did the trick for the team, helping the Shers post a total of 189/9. In response, the Gujarat Titans lost Matthew Wade early on for 6 (7), but Shubman Gill and debutant Sai Sudharsan put on an impressive century stand.
Sudharsan played second fiddle to an on-fire Gill, scoring a 30-ball 35. Gill, on the other hand, reached his fifty off 29 deliveries, and helped the Titans keep up with the asking rate of close to 10. PBKS, wicketless for more than 11 overs, finally broke that stand with leggie Rahul Chahar bagging Sudharsan’s wicket, providing the team a much-needed breakthrough.
Hardik Pandya joined Gill in the middle, adding 37 runs in 25 deliveries, slowing down the run rate a little, but taking the game deep. Gill was the first among the two to depart, with Rabada tempting him to push at a ball straight to Mayank Agarwal, falling at 96 (59). The Titans now needed 20 runs in seven deliveries to win the game.
With pressure mounting, Odean Smith was handed the ball for that final over. After a wide to start, a brilliant throw from Bairstow behind the wicket ran Hardik Pandya out for 27 off 18 deliveries off the first legal ball of the over. With 19 to score in 9 deliveries, new batter Rahul Tewatia on strike and David Miller on the other end, it was pressure on for both teams.
A single from Tewatia, a four from Miller followed by a single after an overthrow from Smith left the Titans needing 12 off the last two to win the game, with Tewatia on strike again. The Punjab nemesis finished the game off with the required two sixes off the two deliveries, eking out a win for the Titans, their third straight one this season.
It was heartache for the Punjab Kings in a hard fought game. Despite some commanding performances, a see-sawing game and some good moments, it did not pan out the way the team would have wanted it to. The Kings now have two wins and two losses from their four matches, with the next match scheduled for April 13 against the Mumbai Indians.