Mayank Agarwal broke into a big smile when K.L. Rahul was caught behind at Pune’s MCA Stadium on Friday night. Rahul would have the last laugh of the night, though.
Having watched Rahul bat from the best seat in the house – the non-striker’s end — for much of his career, Mayank knows as well as anybody else the significance of getting his former opening partner at Punjab Kings out early.
For Lucknow Super Giants, it was indeed a setback: the captain has been fantastic at the top of the order in the IPL this season, with two hundreds and a fifty. On this night though, Rahul lasted just 11 balls before Kagiso Rabada forced him to edge behind the stumps.
Though Rahul’s opening partner Quinton de Kock (46, 37b, 4×4, 2×6) and Deepak Hooda (34, 28b, 1×4, 2×6) put on 85 for the second wicket, a spectacular collapse meant the men from Lucknow would finish with 153 for eight, after being put in. From 98 for one, they had slumped to 111 for six, losing five wickets within a space of three overs.
A fine effort by their bowlers, and some not-too-smart batting by PBKS, however, ensured that their total was enough to post their sixth win – by 20 runs — in the tournament. The Punjab innings had got off to a reasonable start with Mayank and the in-form Shikhar Dhawan adding 35 for the first wicket inside five overs.
But Mayank’s promising innings (25, 17b) was ended by a superb catch at mid-off by Rahul, whose jump at mid-off was timed better than his friend’s shot off Dushmantha Chameera. Before long, Dhawan was bowled while attempting to sweep Ravi Bishnoi.
When Bhanuka Rajapaksa, another man in form, was sent back by Krunal Pandya, PBKS found itself in some trouble. But with Jonny Bairstow finally showing signs of his true self as a batter, the Punjab team could afford to hope, but he fell to Chameera for 32 (28b, 5×4), and nothing miraculous happened afterwards.
Mohsin Khan, the impressive young left-arm seamer, Chameera and Krunal bowled well to capture seven wickets between them.
Earlier, LSG’s collapse began with de Kock’s dismissal.
The left-hander was caught behind when he tried to cut Sandeep Sharma. And he walked; he was patted on the back by an appreciative bowler. In the following over, Hooda was run-out by a wonderous direct hit from the deep by Bairstow.