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Raza’s maiden IPL fifty helps PBKS return to winning ways

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Led by Sam Curran’s 3 for 31 and Sikandar Raza’s maiden IPL half-century, Punjab Kings returned to winning ways, securing a two-wicket victory over Lucknow Super Giants, in Lucknow on Saturday (April 15). Electing to field, PBKS restricted the hosts to 159 despite KL Rahul’s 56-ball 74 and then chased down the total with three balls to spare.

Who was the standout performer of the day?

No one in specific. Different players across both teams had their moments. KL Rahul came up with a knock that was painfully slow for a good part, yet effective in the end. Sam Curran bowled superbly in the death overs. Yudhvir Charak, the Jammu & Kashmir pacer, started out impressively on debut and picked two wickets. Ravi Bishnoi bowled expertly in the death overs. Shahrukh Khan hit some lusty blows en route his unbeaten 10-ball 23 to help the side over the line in the tense run chase.

Did KL Rahul finally return to form?

Not really.

Much like it has been throughout the season, the LSG skipper was slow to get started. When the openers brought up their half-century stand in the seventh over, Rahul was chugging along at run-a-ball 21. Kyle Mayers, who didn’t have good outings in the last two games, too resorted to a more conservative approach in the first four overs.

The duo stitched a 53-run stand for the opening wicket, in 46 balls, before Mayers swept Harpreet Brar to the fielder at fine leg. Deepak Hooda fell soon after, missing a straighter one from Sikandar Raza while attempting a slog and getting trapped legbefore.

Soon after the powerplay, just when Rahul started to show the intent to attack, the PBKS spinners choked Krunal Pandya’s scoring ensuring the hosts didn’t get any momentum on a pitch where shot-making wasn’t the easiest. In 5.4 overs, the duo added 38 runs with Krunal managing to totter only to a 17-ball 18.

Rahul, who became the fastest player (in terms of innings) to reach 4000 runs in IPL en route his knock, played some stunning shots all around the ground, but largely didn’t attempt to play the high-risk shots. As his innings progressed, the scoring rate also saw a rise, but Punjab Kings managed to control the innings from the other end.

What was going on at the other end?

Kasgiso Rabada struck twice in the 15th over, getting Krunal and Nicholas Pooran caught by Shahrukh Khan at deep mid wicket. While Rahul and Marcus Stoinis hit some lusty blows through the course of their brief 31-run alliance, Sam Curran and Arshdeep Singh’s spell in the death overs triggered a flurry of wickets and also kept LSG’s total in check. The hosts failed to take advantage of their steady opening partnership.

Curran’s returns of 3 for 31 was the best by an IPL captain on debut.

How did PBKS start out in the chase?

Poorly. In the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, Yudhvir struck twice – having fellow debutant Atharva Taide caught at fine leg for a duck in the first over and then knocking over the stumps of Prabhsimran Singh.

While Matthew Short took the pacers down with a flurry of boundaries, as a part of his 22-ball 34, he too departed off the last ball of the powerplay, leaving the side reeling at 45 for 3. He fell in the first over of spin, mistiming a hit off K Gowtham to the mid off fielder.

Who steadied the innings?

Sikandar Raza. The Zimbabwean all-rounder struggled early on in his innings as LSG tightened the scoring rate. In the company of Harpreet Bhatia, he managed to add only a run-a-ball 30 as LSG kept control of the contest. However, with the required rate nearing 10-an-over, he went after Krunal in the 13th over, chancing his luck on the long leg side boundary. He smashed two successive deliveries towards deep mid wicket for sixes, both hitting the fielder’s hand before falling over the line. He then pulled another delivery past the same fielder – Yudhvir – for a boundary to even the balance of the contest.

How did LSG fight back?

Rahul hadn’t bowled Ravi Bishnoi on a spinner-friendly wicket till the 15th over. However, once the leggie was brought back into account, he started to pull LSG back into the contest. Curran was dismissed hitting to the long off fielder in his first over, and then, had Raza sweeping to fine leg in the next. The equation was brought down to 20 runs in the last two overs before a few lusty hits by Shahrukh and Harpreet Brar reduced it to 7 runs in the last over.

A couple of mishits by Shahrukh in the last over fell short of the deep fielders and allowed him to scamper twos before he put away the third ball past the extra cover boundary to help his side secure a win.

Brief Scores: Lucknow Super Giants 159/8 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 74, Kyle Mayers 29; Sam Curran 3-31, Kagiso Rabada 2-34) lost to Punjab Kings161/8 in 19.3 overs (Sikandar Raza 57, Matthew Short 34; Ravi Bishnoi 2-18, Yudhvir Charak 2-19) by 2 wickets

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