The Punjab Kings buried Royal Challengers Bangalore in a deluge of runs as they kept their play-off hopes alive with a 54-run victory in IPL 2022, riding superb half-centuries from Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone on Friday. Bairstow (66 from 29 balls) and Livingstone (70 from 42 balls) took the Punjab Kings to 209 for 9 in a game to win and the scoreboard was always going to be telling as RCB were limited to 155 for 9 from 20 overs.
While Punjab remain in the mix with 12 points from as many games, the margin of victory has significantly improved their net run rate to 0.210 and the RCB despite 14 points from 13 games is at -0.323.
RCB will need to win their last game and move to 16 points, but they will also now have to go green with some favorable results.
It was another day and another failure for Virat Kohli (20), who received a light tickle under the brim of his gloves before he touched his thigh and hopped on a short, thin leg of a Kagiso Rabada (4-0-21-3) delivery.
Rabada was literally unplayable that day as he was working at a good pace and hitting the ideal length for a good portion of his spell.
Rishi Dhawan (4-0-36-2), perhaps the weakest link in the Punjab attack, then made up for his lack of pace by hitting an immaculate length as Faf du Plessis edged one in Jitesh Sharma behind stumps and Mahipal Lomror’s raspy shot was taken by Shikhar Dhawan.
Rajat Patidar (26) and Glenn Maxwell (35) added 64 points but were never in the game with both starting in quick succession.
And when Dinesh Karthik (11) was smothered by the brilliant Arshdeep Singh (4-0-27-1) with a wide yorker and a catch by a short third man on the circle, RCB fell apart in a jiffy.
Earlier, Bairstow’s opening blitzkrieg found its ideal match in Livingstone’s finishing carnage.
While Bairstow laid the groundwork with a 29-ball-66, Livingstone was equally good in his 42-ball-70 as the RCB bowlers had a day they’d love to quickly forget.
Bairstow, who was rusty in the first phase of the tournament, was back in his element with no less than seven sixes and four limits on a shot where he literally went to hell for leather.
Such was his dominance that by the time six Powerplay overs ended, Bairstow had hit seven towering sixes and Shikhar Dhawan (21 from 15 balls) rubbed salt into the wound with another that made eight in all.
The Punjab Kings, who had set Powerplay’s pattern of fiery starts, went 83 in six overs with Glenn Maxwell (1/17 in 2 overs), Josh Hazlewood (0/64 in 4 overs) and Mohammed Siraj (0/36 in 2 overs). ) being treated with complete disregard.
While Maxwell managed to get Dhawan, Hazlewood and Siraj were guilty of bowling on a pitch that offered real rebound. Bairstow effortlessly pulled and tossed them into the stands and as deliveries increased they also landed in the stands. It only helped that one side’s limit was only 66 yards, which is a dream for any power hitter.
Siraj had a forgettable first spell where he was hit for four sixes, while Hazlewood in his opening over was gone for 22. The Aussie had his worst IPL numbers ever.
However, after Powerplay, once Wanindu Hasaranga (2/15 in 4 overs) and Shahbaz Ahmed (1/40 in 4 overs) started running, RCB stemmed the rush of runs with tight wicket-to-wicket bowling.
Bengal left arm spinner Shahbaz was rewarded for his tight lines as Bairstow eventually mistimed one and Siraj did well to pocket the skier.
After 83 in the front six, there was a drastic drop in scoring as 22 came in between the 7th and 10th overs.
Hasaranga and Shahbaz both played outside the stump, not letting Livingstone and Agarwal charge down the lane.
Still, the Englishman hit a few sixes and a reverse swept boundary to continue his good form in the competition, then muscled up in the stands towards the end of the fag even as Harshal Patel (4/34 in 4 overs) was exceptional at death.
His fifty came out of 35 balls and by the time he was out he had four of those 14 sixes in Punjab’s innings.
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