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How Punjab dug their own grave in Mohali through blunders with bat and ball

Last updated on 28 Apr 2023 | 09:57 PM
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How Punjab dug their own grave in Mohali through blunders with bat and ball

Against the Lucknow Super Giants, Shikhar Dhawan’s Punjab Kings came up with a 101 of ‘what not to do’ in a T20 match: tactical blunders, indiscipline and a lot more

Punjab’s shocker: How and why was Raza sent ahead of Livingstone and Jitesh?When Prabhsimran Singh holed out to Naveen-ul-Haq in the fourth over, Punjab needed 227 of the remaining 98 balls. This was the bad part. 

The good bit was that they still had Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma, Sam Curran and Shahrukh Khan — four monstrous six-hitters — waiting in the sheds, so the target was not entirely out of their reach. 

In a format like T20, you never know what might happen if you play your cards right. 

Except Punjab did not play their cards right. 

Somehow, for reasons only they know, the Kings sent in at No. 4 Sikandar Raza, a man with a T20 career strike rate of 132.09. There are plenty of scenarios in which promoting Raza to No. 4 might work, but never in a thousand years was it ever going to be a wise move to play him up the order ahead of some serious six-hitters when the required run rate was around the 14.20 mark. 

Raza, by his standards, played a knock — 36 (22) — which, on any other day, in any other chase, would have been considered an ‘impactful cameo’. But having made a slow start, the need of the hour for Punjab was a 20-ball 60 or a 25-ball 72, not a tidy 30.

In Livingstone, Jitesh and Curran, PBKS had the personnel to provide the side with exactly that, but in a flabbergasting move, the Kings decided to promote the least explosive, least intimidating middle-order batter in their line-up.

This, mind you, despite Jitesh and Curran combinedly scoring 80 off 36 in the previous clash vs Mumbai Indians.

By the time Livingstone arrived, the required run rate had climbed up to 17.95 and the game was all but done.

When your bowlers end up getting thrashed for the second-highest total in IPL history, it really is moot talking about what went wrong with the bat, but this was such a spectacular failure on the think-tank’s part. 

Through their decision-making, they somehow managed to turn a 258 chase into 300. 

Dhawan made a huge tactical blunder in the first innings tooPunjab’s tactical blunders were not just limited to the second innings. They made a huge blunder with the ball that played a massive hand in LSG posting 257 on the board.

With Rabada having got the better of Kyle Mayers in the final over of the powerplay, and with Rahul Chahar having bowled a tight seventh over (only 8 runs), the stage was set for skipper Dhawan to introduce Sam Curran, who had been held back. With two (relatively) new batters at the crease, the time was ripe for Curran to be introduced; this was Punjab’s opportunity to wrestle the momentum back.

Bafflingly enough, Dhawan threw the ball to debutant Gurnoor Brar, who after an outstanding first over had traveled in his second, conceding 16. 

Dhawan probably hoped for the youngster to slip in a somewhat cheap over but the move whoppingly backfired as Badoni and Stoinis smelt blood and ripped into the youngster. 

4 1NB 6 4 1 WD 0 6 was the end result and the fateful over saw Lucknow take 24 (!!) off it. 

Curran was introduced two overs later, during the 10th, but it was too late by then: both Stoinis and Badoni had got their eye in already, and that enabled the pair to easily tackle Curran, who ended up getting taken for 17 in his first over.

It makes you wonder how much scoreboard pressure affected Curran. By the time he bowled his first ball, LSG were already flying high at 111/2 after 9 overs. 

83/2 in 7 is not a lot better but Curran surely would have preferred to bowl to Stoinis and Badoni whilst they were still finding their groove. 

As a matter of fact, such was the impact Gurnoor’s 24-run over had that Lucknow’s win percentage jumped from 63% to 74% in the space of just six balls. It never came down under 70% after that. 

Punjab’s seamers were nothing short of atrocious (their fielding was no better)Prior to Friday, the last time a side posted over 250 in the IPL, the greatest T20 batter of all time played the greatest T20 innings of all time.

Lucknow, on Friday in Mohali, posted 257 and hit 41 boundaries in total, yet, in a way, their innings almost underwhelmed. That was down to just how hideous Punjab were on the field, minus Rahul Chahar.

At a venue like the PCA Stadium, it is almost harder to concede 257 than to not concede, but the Punjab seamers almost went out of their way to assist the LSG batters in their quest to break RCB’s record.

Indiscipline was the flavour of the night. There were not one, not two, but FOUR no-balls bowled by the PBKS speedsters. You have to go all the way back to May 2015 to find the last instance of a side bowling more no-balls in a single innings in the IPL.

You can perhaps excuse the two no-balls that came from young Gurnoor, who might have been overwhelmed by the occasion, but it is criminal for a player of Kagiso Rabada’s experience to be delivering multiple no-balls. 

The impact of the no-ball can be mitigated by bowling good follow-up deliveries on free-hits, but on the night, Punjab’s free hits cost them 18 runs in 4 balls (6 4 6 WD 1).

15 runs came in extras in total, but the Kings’ speedsters were not just guilty of giving away extras. They were also guilty of bowling a lot of filth.

The PBKS seamers bowled as many as SEVEN deliveries outside leg-stump to the LSG right-handers, most of which were full, and they were thumped. The Lucknow right-handers took full toll, smashing three fours and two sixes, and the seven aforementioned deliveries yielded 24 runs (SR of 342.9).  

Adding up these unofficial free hits, the official free hits and the extras together, we get 57. Even if the Punjab seamers had shown half the discipline, they could have restricted the Super Giants to a 225-ish total, which certainly would have been chaseable. 

The icing on the cake was the fielding. 

On the very first ball of the match, Atharva Taide put down a sitter that gave Rahul a life. That did not cost the Kings, but Liam Livingstone stepping on the ropes certainly did.

Stoinis would have been dismissed for 32 (24) had Livingstone not touched the ropes with his feet in Chahar’s final over, fielding at long-off, but the all-rounder went on to add 32 more runs off 16 balls after the reprieve. 

A 101 on how to self-sabotage

Going forward, other teams (and Punjab themselves) can look at this clash in order to learn ‘what not to do’ in a T20 match.

From making a questionable decision at the toss, to fielding poorly, to bowling eye-wateringly badly, to committing two horrifying tactical blunders, the Kings did everything they could to lose the contest.

Take nothing away from Lucknow, who triple-bageled the Kings on their bad day by being flawless, but this was self-destruction of the highest order.

4 wins from 8 means Punjab are still in the race for the playoffs, but one more performance like this and they’ll be done for good.

Up next for Dhawan & Co: a visit to Chepauk. May the cricketing Gods be kind.

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