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Punjab tweak their approach; Arshdeep continues to impress

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Last updated on 25 Apr 2022 | 06:54 PM
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Punjab tweak their approach; Arshdeep continues to impress

Shikhar Dhawan scored a well-crafted 88* before Arshdeep Singh produced a masterclass in death bowling

PBKS tone down their full-throttle approach 

Punjab Kings wanted to be ruthless even if it came at the expense of some recklessness. At least, that’s how it looked from the outside. The PBKS batters were given a clear message, that is to go all guns blazing from the word go, and that’s exactly what they did in their first seven encounters of the Indian Premier League 2022. The ploy was absolutely correct but things didn’t quite go as planned, largely because of the lack of depth in their batting line-up. 

It was because of the “all-or-nothing” approach, Punjab were bowled out for just 115 in their last encounter against Delhi Capitals and that forced them to make some personnel and tactical changes against Chennai Super Kings on Monday (April 25). Kagiso Rabada batted at No. 7 against Delhi and Punjab decided to add more depth to their batting by bringing in Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Rishi Dhawan. 

Prior to tonight, Punjab had the second-best scoring rate (9.5) in the powerplay but were also losing too many wickets before the death overs. 156/5, 102/8, 147/5, 152/5, 132/3, 122/4 and 96/8 - these were Punjab’s scores at the end of 15 overs in each of their seven encounters and only twice they lost less than five wickets. As a result, they had the worst scoring rate (8.4) in the last five overs.

The surface at the Wankhede Stadium was slightly sluggish and both Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan hardly tried to go after the bowling unit. Agarwal scored 18 off 21 deliveries before perishing in the final over of the powerplay, while Dhawan managed to score 16 off 14 in the first phase. Only two fours and a six were hit in the first six overs but Punjab lost only one wicket. The last time these two sides met, PBKS slammed 72/2 in the first six overs, but tonight, they only managed 37/1 - their least productive powerplay this season.

The onus was now on Dhawan and Rajapaksa to up the ante but the two batters hardly played any risky shots in the next four-five overs. Rajapaksa, who operated at a strike rate of 230.55 in his first three games, too started slowly and was 22 off 19 at one stage. Meanwhile, Dhawan was on 31 off 27 at the end of 11 overs before breaking the shackles against Mukesh Choudhary. The opener smashed the left-arm seamer for three boundaries in an over and brought some momentum into the innings. 

"Punjab Kings, the way they have gone about this season, all were in the same mode. Here there was a lot of difference in the tempo. Today they did well by building up a crescendo and then have a blast at the end. The changes they have made also worked for them. Rajapaksa provided the support for Dhawan. It looked like they were crawling at one point, but went big at the end," WV Raman told 

Dhawan was not reckless but kept finding boundaries at regular intervals in the second half of the innings. He scored 57 off his last 32 deliveries but Rajapaksa couldn’t accelerate the way he would have wanted to. The left-hander from Sri Lanka scored 42 off 32 and added 110 runs with Dhawan before departing in the 18th over, giving Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow very little time to make an impact.

However, Livingstone still managed to play a nice little cameo. The Englishman smoked two sixes and a four in his 7-ball 19 and ensured Punjab got closer to the 200-run mark. In hindsight, and in the future, Punjab would want Livingstone and their other big hitters to get more deliveries and that’s where the top-order will have to be more careful. They could have easily scored 15-20 runs more and that almost cost them the game.

Rayudu fires, but Arshdeep rightly steals the limelight

Chennai once again got off to a horrible start. Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner and Shivam Dube perished inside seven overs, while Ruturaj Gaikwad (27-ball 30) once again failed to get going. It looked like Punjab would manage to win by a big margin but that’s when Ambati Rayudu stepped up and smacked 78 off 39 deliveries to single-handedly keep CSK alive in the contest. 

Having scored 168 runs at a strike rate of 111.3 in the previous six innings, there was some pressure on Rayudu but the 36-year-old brought his A-game tonight. The right-hander smoked seven fours and six maximums and batted with the right intent from the word go. While the other CSK batters struggled, Rayudu took the attack to Rahul Chahar, Rishi Dhawan and Livingstone. He then hammered Sandeep Sharma for three sixes and a four in one over and brought the equation down to 47 off 24. 

The momentum had tilted in Chennai’s favour but Arshdeep Singh still had two overs left and the young left-arm seamer once again did the job for his team. Bowling to the likes of Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni, the 23-year-old conceded only 14 runs in his last two overs. In fact, Arshdeep has an economy of just 5.7 in the death overs (17-20). Six overs across five innings is a pretty good sample size, as his economy is the best amongst bowlers who have bowled at least three overs in this phase. In those six overs, not once he has leaked more than eight runs.

"Arsh (Arshdeep) has been the best death bowler in the camp, that's what the stats say. He has been leading the way in that discipline. He has got a lot of talent, drive and ambition," said Kagiso Rabada, who himself had a pretty solid outing against Chennai. Arshdeep comes with a simple gameplan - bowl wide yorkers and has managed to execute it perfectly. For someone who was not even a first-choice pick for India at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup, Arshdeep has come a long way and rightly deserves all the applause.

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