Video Credit: Gulf News

Shikhar Dhawan brought all his experience to the table to punish a wayward Gujarat Titans attack and give Punjab Kings an eight-wicket victory after South African pacer Kagiso Rabada restricted their opponents to a paltry score at the DY Patil Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.

Punjab, who have been showing yo-yo form this season, surprised themselves with a perfect show against table-toppers Gujarat and keep themselves in the running for the play-offs. Win-loss, win-loss has been the sequence for the Kings, but after two successive losses, one thought they have gone into the reversal mode for good, but they played their all-round game to perfection.

One big reason could be that Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya offered the game on a platter by winning the toss and electing to bat, a brave decision that backfired and also made Punjab’s task easier.

The wicket had plenty of assistance to the bowlers early on, but with the dew settling down and some wayward bowling by Gujarat bowlers, the job of the Punjab batters were made easier and Dhawan grabbed it both hands to produce an 87-run partnership with Banuka Rajapaksa and then an unbroken 48-run stand with Liam Livingstone, who scored 28 runs off Shami’s last over to dent his reputation created by the brilliant three-over first spell.

It’s a game to forget for Gujarat, who can afford a few slip-ups and for a change none of their earlier heroes came good and had a rare off day. But rookie Sai Sudharsan kept his cool and took the team to 143/7 with an unbeaten 65.

Punjab skipper Mayank Agarwal’s gamble to open with Jonny Bairstow did not get the desired results, but at least he should be happy to get the favourable result that will boost their dampened spirits for the crucial home stretch. The victory with five overs to spare should have also boosted the net run rate, which will be crucial with so many teams level on points. Punjab have moved up to the fifth spot with 10 points.

How it happened

Livingstone hastens the end with sizzling assault

Nothing seems to be going right for Gujarat today. Some good shots are finding the edge only for more runs and even a referral shows that the ball missed the stumps. As a final option, Pandya brought Shami for his final overs and Livingstone greeted him with a mammoth six that settled in the third tier of the huge stadium. He continued in the same vain to score 28 of the over to win finish the match with four overs to spare.

Dhawan completes another half-century, maintains hold

The crucial aspect on this wicket is to bowl straight on a good length. The two wickets that have come for Gujarat were the balls bowled on those areas. But not many have landed there. Dhawan is getting better and better and punishing the good balls to his favourite areas and has crossed another half=century. After 13 overs, Punjab are 104/2, needing another 40 from 42 balls.

Punjab cruising towards victory

Punjab are cruising towards victory and seasoned opener Shikhar Dawan ensures that they don’t have any anxious moments by milking the bowling and taking advantage of the loose balls, thankfully they are in plenty, to take the Kings to 76/1 at halfway stage. Punjab might have started the contest as underdogs, but they have the superiority now. For some strange reason, the shots that Punjab batters play are in no man’s land, while the Gujarat batters always found one fielder. That shows the bowlers are not bowling to the set field. Punjab now need another 60 off nine overs. Dhawan is on 46 and Rajapaksa is batting on 33.

Gujarat finally playing like true debutants

After nine games, one get to see the different side of Gujarat. They are playing like true debutants in today’s clash against Punjab. Yes, it’s an exercise that the team need to undergo to check their shortcomings and iron them out before the play-offs. But there are more holes to fill than positives today. The bowlers are leaking runs and not getting their line and length right and more importantly not bowling to their fields. Sangwan is the biggest offender, conceding 23 runs in two overs. After 7 overs, Punjab are 58/1.

Shami not getting enough support from other end

Alzarri Joseph continued from where Sangwan has left off, bowling short balls consistently for Dhawan to keep scoring at a fast clip, if that’s not enough, then spray it on the leg. Certainly these two have not done their homework nor have learnt from Shami, who bowled his third straight over and troubled the batters. It’s important to keep the pressure from both ends, which otherwise, Gujarat will not be defend the low score. After 5 overs, Punjab are 35/1, with Shami conceding 15 from his three overs.

Bairstow’s bad run continues this season

Bairstow’s lack of runs is showing in the way he is approaching the game. When Shami was breathing fire and making the ball dance, beating the outside edge repeatedly, the Englishman went for a heave only to top-edge to Sangwan, who has finally something to cheer. The left-arm pacer seemed to have made up his mind to bowl half-trackers to Dhawan, who gleefully accepted the generous gifts. Even Rajapaksa is living dangerously. After 3 overs, Punjab are 18/1.

Agarwal shows he can think and ready for sacrifice

A gamble worth taking and by making Jonny Bairstow open with Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal has proved that he is not averse to change, even at the cost of sacrificing his spot. Both Punjab openers have negated the probing first over from Shami to ensure that Gujarat’s in-form pacer doesn’t get early success. After 1 over, Punjab are 2/0.

Gujarat Titans’ bold move to elect batting after winning the toss has backfired as the IPL debutants played into the hands of Punjab Kings and were reduced to 143 for eight at the end of 20 overs.

Kagiso Rabada was the main destroyer with four wickets and didn’t allow the Gujarat innings to take off. Rookie Sai Sudharsan’s battling half-century saved the table-toppers the blushes and gave them a challenging total on a wicket that stops and bounces a bit more, not giving the batters the freedom to play their shots. The left-hander withstood the Punjab bowlers in the initial phase before opening up to remain unbeaten on 65 off 50 balls.

The slide started with a suicidal run out by Shubhman Gill and after the unexpected breakthrough, Rabada dismissed the dangerous Wriddhiman Saha, who chanced his arm more frequently than required.

The Titans saw the rare failure of their stalwarts, skipper Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan, which has never happened to the Titans. But the total is not easy and requires plenty of discipline in the chase. If Punjab blink, then they will go deep down and will not be able to come out.

Rabada gets two crucial wickets to push Gujarat deeper

Rabada is the hero for Punjab, getting two dangermen, Tewatia and Rashid Khan off successive deliveries. For the first time, Gujarat’s tail will be tested. The positive news is that Sudharsan is still around. The left-hander has played a calm and composed innings and stood strong amid the five wickets that fell from the other end. After 17 overs, Gujarat are 114/6 with Sudharsan closer to his maiden half-century.

Sudharsan keeps Gujarat in the fight

Rookie Sudharsan has stepped up to the big stage. The left-hander has managed to find a few boundaries and has taken Gujarat closer to the 100-run mark. Sudharsan has moved to 40 off 37 balls. The wicket has become more difficult to score and Gujarat need to target at least 60 runs in the last five overs, which is possible. After 15 overs, Gujarat are 98/4.

Gujarat are still deep in the woods

Gujarat need to find the extra gear, otherwise they will end up with under-par score. Sudharsan finally found the boundary after 47 balls. The Titans have lost three wickets during this time, including Miller, who could not get the elevation right against Livingstone. After 12 overs, Gujarat are 73/4. Tewatia has a bigger role to play today.

Boundaries have dried up for Gujarat

Not the start Gujarat would have wanted, but nevertheless it gives them the chance to test the lower order once again. Miller and Sai Sudharsan are trying to bring the Titans back on track with ones and some aggressive-run twos. Not a boundary scored since the fall of Saha in the fourth over, which means 32 balls without a boundary. After 9 overs, Gujarat are 56/3. The table-toppers at least need another 100 runs in the next 11 overs. Possible.

Rishi Dhawan gets the big fish

The swing and the extra bounce is causing trouble for the Gujarat batters. Pandya showed a rare urgency to play the drive on the up off Rishi Dhawan to edge straight into the hands of keeper Jitesh Sharma. The Titans are in deep trouble, and it’s nothing new to them. After 7 overs, Gujarat are 46/3.

Punjab bowlers keep Gujarat quiet

Punjab have clawed their way back after the initial flourish from Gujarat batters that saw a flurry of fours and sixes. The two quick wickets once again slowed the runscoring pace as Gujarat are now trying to consolidate their position. Agarwal was quick to pounce on the opportunity to bowl a couple of tight overs with Arshdeep and Sandeep Sharma to keep the batters quiet. After 6 overs, Gujarat are 43/2.

Saha pays the price for his overzelous shots

Saha, who was looking in ominous touch by continuing from where he left off in the previous game, took one too many chances and has succumbed to the same technique that helped him to score some runs. The veteran wicketkeeper, making the most of the new ball and field restrictions, has been taking the aerial route to keep the scoreboard moving, but Rabada had the last laugh. He had a bigger role to play after a suicidal run has cost Gill his wicket. However, that was not to be. Saha’s wicket has brought skipper Pandya to the crease. After 4 overs, Gujarat are 34/2.

Gujarat openers put their best foot forward

The dry wicket, laced with a few grasses, promises plenty of runs as the ball comes on to the bat nicely. The bounce is a bit inconsistent and that has troubled both Saha and Shubhman Gill, though both have played some crisp shots on the frontfoot. After 2 overs, Gujarat are 17/0.

Pandya wins toss and elects to bat

Gujarat Titans captain Pandya has won the toss and elected to bat first. Both teams have retained the same squad that played in the last game. May be it is the luck that Agarwal has been missing, batting second when the dew could make it easier for his batters.

Gujarat seeking seventh straight victory

Dubai: Premier League debutants Gujarat Titans start as an overwhelming favourites to score their sixth straight win as they take on Punjab Kings in Match 48 of the Indian Premier League 2022 at DY Patil Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.

The Mayank Agarwal-led Punjab have been extremely inconsistent, something that have plagued the team over the past years. At least one hoped that the newly assembled team would change for the better under Agarwal with many good additions to the team. But the Punjab fans have been encountering the same disappointment that they have witnessed over the years and their play-off hopes hang by the thread after being in eighth spot with eight points from nine games.

They have an improbable task of halting the Gujarat juggernaut, that has been steamrollering the opposition with ruthless display. They have had many match-winners in the last nine games, which means that they have seen the worst and have come out of the gruesome battles unscathed.

Hardik's fitness a worry

The injury or the fitness of skipper Hardik Pandya has always been a worry, but the senior pros like Rashid Khan, who led the team to victory in his absence, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha have all used their experience to the best. In fact, credit should go to Hardik to bring out the best from the discards like Miller and Saha.

If there is one big headache every team had to contend is the presence of Rahul Tewatia. The left-hander has now become one of the most feared finishers of the game and has guided Gujarat home from improbable situations.

The only consolation for Punjab is that they managed to score 189 against Gujarat and they need to reproduce that batting performance if they fancy their chances of a win. However, with wickets getting slower and spinners getting more bounce and turn, Rashid Khan will be a big danger for Punjab, who have a big disadvantage in that department.