Punjab Kings (PBKS) delivered when it mattered the most, inflicting a crushing 54-run defeat on the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Brabourne Stadium in a clinical all-round display that kept their hopes of making the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 playoffs alive.
While RCB were more comfortably-placed on the IPL 2022 points table, PBKS entered the 60th match of the season needing to win each of their three remaining games to avoid joining Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings in bowing out of the competition before the knockouts.
And the kind of performance dished out by the Kings on Friday will please captain Mayank Agarwal and the rest of the team management to no end, and give their fans genuine hope of the team finally ending their wait for a maiden title this year, even if there still is a long way to go before they are able to realise that dream.
Bangalore, on the other hand, were given a rude wake-up call in the race to the playoffs, and the defeat will no doubt have made the job trickier for the side ahead of their final group game against Kolkata Knight Riders this Thursday. While they continue to sit at the fourth spot on the points table, their Net Run Rate has fallen to -0.323, something that could cost them a spot in the top four should they be locked on points with other teams.
Looking back at the events on Friday evening, we bring to you five talking points from the RCB-PBKS clash:
Bairstow’s blazing innings
Jonny Bairstow gave the Punjab team management a reminder of what they missed out for a majority of their campaign this season with a second consecutive half-century after being promoted to open alongside Shikhar Dhawan, his 29-ball 66 on Friday turning out to be his fastest half-century ever in the IPL.
The powerplay was almost exclusively a Bairstow show as Dhawan was content in providing support from the other end and collecting the odd boundary. The Englishman was pleasing to the eye in his choice of shots and looked especially supreme in his ability to churn out maximums even when faced with good deliveries bowled along the hard lengths.
Bairstow’s form certainly looks ominous at the moment and will force Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, the teams Punjab faces in their remaining fixtures, to sit up and take notice. Regardless to say, he will play a crucial role in guiding the team to the playoffs and beyond.
Hasaranga’s outstanding spell
Wanindu Hasaranga delivered for skipper Faf du Plessis even as his colleagues in the RCB bowling unit were belted all over the park.
On a day when Josh Hazlewood went wicketless for 64 runs and Mohammed Siraj ended up leaking 36 from his two overs, Hasaranga was in a zone of his own and offered the hard-hitting Punjab batters little room to bring out those big hits, dismissing compatriot Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Jitesh Sharma along the way. Though Harshal Patel was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4/34, one can’t help but pick Hasaranga out as the bowler with the most impact (4-0-15-2).
Hasaranga, in the process, went past Yuzvendra Chahal to become the new owner of the Purple Cap with 23 wickets to his name. The two leggies are certainly having quite the mini-battle for the cap at the moment, and the Sri Lankan certainly will hope to power on in the same manner as he looks to end another IPL season top of the wicket charts.
Livingstone continues to justify his price tag
It certainly was a good day in office for the Englishmen at the Brabourne Stadium on Friday as middle-order bat Liam Livingstone dished out a blistering 42-ball 70 that, along with Bairstow’s equally destructive 66, helping Punjab post a commanding total of 209.
Livingstone went particularly hard at Josh Hazlewood, who perhaps had one of his worst days ever in his senior career, smashing two fours and as many sixes off the Aussie seamer. While it was Bairstow’s knock that laid the foundation for the sizeable total, it was the Lancastrian’s late push that eventually got them past the 200-mark.
Livingstone’s currently sixth on the Orange Cap list with 385 runs to his name in 12 outings, at a superb strike rate of 180.75. Needless to say, he certainly has proven his worth and lived up to the expectations that a price tag of Rs 11.5 crore at the IPL auction would bring.
Another unlucky dismissal for Kohli
Virat Kohli just can’t catch a break this season. From multiple golden ducks to a half-century in which he couldn’t escape criticism for his strike rate, the RCB batting icon certainly has had a tough run in IPL 2022, one of his worst performances ever in the tournament.
And on Friday, the former RCB skipper got off to a positive start, collecting a couple of fours off Arshdeep Singh in the second over before smashing Harpreet Brar for the maximum in the following over. South African speedster Kagiso Rabada then cramped him with a short-of-length delivery aimed at his body, which he attempted to pull through the square leg region but ended up gloving it onto his thigh, with the ball then deflecting towards short fine leg for an easy grab.
The way he was timing those shots, Kohli once again gave his fans hope of ending the run drought. And yet again, he found a way to get himself out.
Arshdeep continues to impress
Arshdeep Singh has been having an impressive run with the ball so far for the Punjab Kings this season, and continues to push his case for national selection in the shorter formats with a series of consistent displays.
The left-arm seamer may have started on a shaky note, getting hit for two boundaries by Kohli in the second over of the RCB innings, but made a fine comeback in his second spell after being brought back in the 15th over.
Sure Bangalore had by then lost two set batters in Glenn Maxwell and Rajat Patidar, but Punjab still had to negate the threat that an in-form Dinesh Karthik posed with his ability to turn things around in the blink of an eye.
Arshdeep snuffed out the DK threat after being brought back to help his side breathe a little easier, and was tidy in the remainder of the innings.