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Dubai: The final league match of Indian Premier League 2022 might have been a dead rubber, but there was no shortage for entertainment, sometimes bordering on comedy of errors as Punjab raced to a five-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

England all-rounder Liam Livingstone lived a charmed life on the field, where he was the beneficiary of at least three chances. But making the most of the chances, Livingstone played some delightful shots to score an unbeaten 49 to guide Punjab home in style.

One could feel for the bowlers who were the victim of some ordinary fielding and catching that hastened the end and brought tremendous joy to the army of Kings’ fans, who must have been waiting for their favourite team to produce a display that was matching their talents and the team strength.

Hyderabad blown away

The loss has left Sunrisers on eighth spot, the same as they finished last year. If one thought the famed Hyderabad bowling will make a match of it under difficult conditions and on a weary pitch was far from the reality.

Jonny Bairstow, Shikhar Dhawan, Shahrukh Khan and Livingstone did not take their foot off the pedal in chasing a below par total in 15.1 overs. Umran Malik, who was called into the Indian team, celebrated with an early wicket, however he was given a taste of what to expect at the international arena when Livingstone started toying with him and hitting sixes at will. Livingstone’s knock consisted of five sixes and two four, including the 1,000th six in this edition of the IPL.

So now with the league games over the play-off will shift to Kolkata, and the fresh pitches will welcome the four teams that are remaining in this contest.

How the final league game happened

Punjab close in on win to end season on a high

Dhawan’s wicket is a minor blip in the lucky ride that Punjab have been going through. Sundar has been having a match to forget, especially while fielding as he dropped a sitter off Livingstone, only to see Jitesh leave the next ball, caught at long-on while trying to score the 1,000th six in this IPL season. After 14 overs, Punjab are 133/5, needing 25 runs off 36 balls.

Punjab taking the match away by the scruff of the neck

Livingstone on fire. After Surviving a difficult chance at long on off Umran Malik, the England all-rounder showed why he is one of the most dangerous batters in world cricket today by carting the tearaway pacer to two sixes to take the chase to overdrive. After 10 overs, Punjab are 97/3, needing another 61 off 60 balls. Punjab are taking the match by the scruff of the neck.

More wickets fall for Punjab

Trouble brewing for Punjab. Dhawan has been convincing only in parts and skipper Mayank Agarwal, who had to endure a painful blow to the rib cage by a 1405-plus missile from Umran Malik, goes while trying to power Sundar over the midwicket field. Now Liam Livingstone, needs to play another blinder of a knock and the England all-rounder made his intentions clear by hitting Sundar to a six off the first ball. Still Umran Malik is a potent weapon that’s firing on all cylinders. Next couple of overs crucial for Punjab’s chase.

Umran Malik tastes early success

Finally, luck seems to smile on Hyderabad. Shahrukh Khan, who welcomed Umran Malik to the crease with a stunning straight-drive four, tried to go over mid-on, only to sky the ball high for Washington Sundar to complete the catch. The Hyderabad pacer becomes deadly once he tastes early success, which gives the energy to go faster and faster. Now with a wicket off the third ball, he must ready to go after Punjab batters. After 6.3 overs, Punjab are 66/2.

Runs keep flowing thick and fast for Punjab

Bairstow’s wicket has not stopped the flow of runs, which are coming thick and fast – some off the edge and some clean shots. Still, Shikhar Dhawan and Shahrukh Khan, who has been promoted up the order after returning to the squad after a few games, continued to take their chances during the powerplay overs to take Punjab to 62/1 after six overs. Had Hyderabad fielders hit the stumps, then Punjab would have been three down. The Kings batters are riding their luck and why stop now when it’s favouring them.

Bairstow’s chancy innings comes to an end

It’s all happening in the first two over. It’s raining fours and in between a run-out chance missed and a sitter dropped. Jonny Bairstow has been chancing his arm and finds some success during the poweplay overs. Punjab have got off to a real quick start and if this continues for another four or five overs, the match is as good as over for Hyderabad. But that was not to be as Afghanistan’s left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi dismissed Bairstow clean bowled. After 3 overs, Punjab are 28/1.

Hyderabad finish on a high

Sunrisers Hyderbad, after a good start and a perfect finish, finished with over par 157 for seven against Punjab Kings in the dead rubber at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.

Punjab left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar turned the match in Kings’ way with a three-wicket spell, but the pacers were gifting away plenty of runs in the final four overs, which cost them 58 runs. These freebies could come to bite Punjab when they chase as Hyderabad possess one of the most potent attack in this Indian Premier League Season 15.

After losing their way in the middle overs, Washington Sundar and Romario Shepherd played some big shots to put on a 58-run partnership for the seventh wicket off 4.5 overs. The final over provided the best drama when three wickets fell and a fourth off a free hit, which was a not out.

Hyderabad, who lost the wicket of Priyam Garg, steadied the innings through the team’s two top-scorers Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi, who put on 47 runs in quick time. And the exit of Tripathi brought Markram, who also kept the scoreboard ticking. But Sunrisers lost wickets at regular intervals and that put them on the backfoot before Punjab pacers let the Hyderabad batters off the hook. Though most of the Hyderabad batters got their starts, none could go on to make a big score.

It’s going to be a difficult chase for Punjab and should they lose an early wicket, it will be difficult for the Kings to get out of Sunrisers’ stranglehold. It is the same pitch on which the match between Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians took place, which means there will be more wear and tear as it will be fourth innings in the last two days. Advantage Hyderabad.

Punjab pacers let Sunrisers off the hook

Washington Sundar and Romario Shepherd have continued to take the attack to their rivals by scoring 36 runs in two overs, thanks to some very ordinary bowling effort from Punjab pacers. These overs could prove costly for Punjab as the wicket has been consistently assisting the bowlers, especially the spinners as the match progressed. After 18 overs, Sunrisers are 135/5.

Brar spins a web around Hyderabad

Harpreet Brar must be proud of his third wicket. The left-arm spinner pushed the ball a bit faster that allowed it to spin and bounce and caught Markram by surprise. Despite the South African checking his drive, he lost the balance in the process and dragged his feet outside the popping crease and was stumped by Jitesh. Brar’s brilliant four-over spell comes to an end with the spinner getting three wickets conceding just 26 runs. After 15 overs, Sunrisers are 96/5.

Pooran lets Hyderabad down by gifting his wicket

It was a big stage for the newly appointed West Indies’ white-ball skipper Nicholas Pooran to show that he could take the responsibility and thrive in the absence of Williamson. But the left-hander went for a wild swing over the covers only to edge the ball angled across to the wicketkeeper. Had he stayed till the end, his knock could have made a big difference as Pooran has showed his big-hitting credentials in the past few games. Another lefty, Washington Sundar is giving Markram the company for the last six overs of the innings. After 14 overs, Hyderabad are 90/4.

Brilliant catch ends Abhishek’s knock

A brilliant innings comes to a brilliant end. Abhishek Sharma could not get the elevation right, but still the ball was travelling to the long-on fence. Liam Livingstone timed his jump to perfection to pull off a stunning catch inches from the fence to dismiss the left-hander for 43. The youngster could end the season with his head held high. Nicholas Pooran and Aiden Markram have a big role to play in the final game of the season. Another 80 runs off nine overs will give the bowling-strong Hyderabad a good total to defend. After 11 overs, Sunrisers are 79/3.

Punjab get Hyderabad’s top-scorer

Tripathi was furious in the fashion he got out. And he should be, so! A rank bad ball outside the leg-stump resulted in the right-hander hitting the sweep straight to Shikhar Dhawan, who doesn’t miss these offerings. Against the run of play, Hyderabad have lost another wicket and now the Sunrisers’ fortunes rest on Abhishek Sharma as it is increasingly getting difficult to play the shots early in the innings. After 10 overs, Hyderabad are 71/2.

Abhishek and Tripathi steady Hyderabad

Hyderabad’s top two run-scorers in this season, Rahul Tripathi and Abhishek Sharma, have given the former champions the right start despite an early setback. The left-right combination have been adopting a cautious but aggressive approach, putting the bad balls to the fence. After 7 overs, Sunrisers are 52/1 with Abhishek on 32 and Tripathi, who must have been disappointed after missing the bus for the Indian team, is on 15.

Garg continues to disappoint Sunrisers fans

Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma have been highly spoken about in the past few years, but today Sharma, for the first time, has played all the matches in an IPL season and will be leading Sunrisers charge in the absence of skipper Kane Williamson. On the other hand, Garg continued to disappoint his backers by gifting his wicket early to Kagiso Rabada on a dry surface that will be difficult for strokeplay. After 3 overs, Sunrisers are 18/1.

Skipper Bhuvneshwar wins toss and elects to bat

Sunrisers’ new skipper Bhuvneshwar Kumar won the toss and elected to bat first against Punjab Kings. Sunrisers have made three changes to the squad with Romario Shepherd and Jagadeesha Suchith replacing Kane Williamson and Natarajan. Punjab skipper Mayank Agarwal has brought in Shahrukh Khan, Prerak Mankad and Nathan Ellis for Rajapaksa, Rahul Chahar and Rishi Dhawan.

All eyes on Umran and Arshdeep in dead rubber

Dubai: Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings will meet in a dead rubber in Match 70 of the Indian Premier League at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai today [Sunday].

The last match of the league phase seldom doesn’t have any consequence on the outcome of the final league table, however, in a change from the past, both teams are out of the reckoning for the play-offs after Delhi Capital’s loss in their final match of Season 15 to Mumbai Indians knocked them out and propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to the fourth qualification spot.

Both Hyderabad and Punjab have to blame themselves for their miserable situation in this league. While Sunrisers had a bad start, the Kane Williamson-led team steamrollered their opponents with a five-match winning run with pace ace Umran Malik marshalling the conquests. However, the former champions could not sustain the momentum and followed it up with another string of five loses to be eighth among the 10-team league. Incidentally, Sunrisers finished eighth and last in the last edition held in India and the UAE with just six points.

Lack of consistency

Punjab too had a similar topsy-turvy form, but unlike Sunrisers, the Kings didn’t manage to score two consecutive wins in this whole season and have been having a win-loss run right from Match 1. Similar to the past seasons, the lack of consistency has come to plague the team once again and while the bowlers did well the batters failed in the early part of the season, and vice-versa in the latter half.

However, both teams should take credit to the fact that youngsters like Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh could find their way into the Indian team, while the talented left-hander Abhishek Sharma has finally lived up to his expectations after a few seasons in the IPL. On the other hand, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have regained their forms and have sent out strong signals to the selectors that they are not a spent force yet. While Bhuvneshwar found a place in the Twenty20 side, no such luck for Dhawan, who must have lost out to Ishan Kishan. The former Indian opener will be eager to prove the selectors wrong in today’s clash.

This match, though only of academic interest, will help both teams to give chance to new players that will stand them in good stead for the new season. Hyderabad, who will be without Williamson, could also test their potential new captain in the final league match of Season 15. With both teams relying heavily on the pace attack, Punjab hold a slight edge to finish on a high as their batters have found a way to score big on these worn-out pitches.