Punjab drown RCB in red; Bairstow, Livingstone keep playoff hopes alive
Punjab Kings buried Royal Challengers Bangalore under a deluge of runs as they kept their play-off hopes alive with a thumping 54-run victory, riding on superb half-centuries from Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone in the IPL 2022 match at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.
Bairstow (66 off 29 balls) and Livingstone (70 off 42 balls) propelled Punjab Kings to a mammoth 209/9 in a must-win game. RCB faltered under the pressure of the huge score and finished on 155/9 in 20 overs.
While Punjab remain in the mix with 12 points from as many games, the margin of victory considerably improved their net run-rate to +0.023 and RCB despite having 14 points from 13 games are at a -0.323.
RCB will have to win their final game, while also needing the other results to go their way to advance to the IPL 2022 play-offs.
Virat Kohli (20) continued his horror run with the bat, as the short ball kissed his gloves before it hit his thigh pad and bobbed up to short fine leg off Kagiso Rabada, who took 3/21.
Rishi Dhawan (2/36) rocked RCB in the Powerplay when he got captain Faf du Plessis caught behind, before dismissing Mahipal Lomror in the same over.
Rajat Patidar (26) and Glenn Maxwell (35) rallied RCB as they out on 64 runs but they were never in the game as both departed in quick succession.
And when Dinesh Karthik (11) was snuffed out by the brilliant Arshdeep Singh (1/27) with a wide yorker as he was caught at short thirdman, RCB fizzled out in a jiffy.
Jonny Bairstow’s opening blitzkrieg found its ideal match in Liam Livingstone’s finishing carnage as Punjab Kings took apart the RCB bowlers to post an imposing 209/9.
While Bairstow laid the foundation with a 29-ball-66, Livingstone was equally good in his 42-ball-70 as the RCB bowlers had a day which they would like to forget in a hurry.
Bairstow, who was rusty during the earlier phase of the tournament, was back in his element with as many as seven sixes and four boundaries during a knock where he literally went hell for leather.
Such was his dominance that by the time six overs of Powerplay ended, Bairstow had hit seven towering sixes and Shikhar Dhawan (21 off 15 balls) added another one, making it eight in all.
Punjab Kings, which had set the template of blazing Powerplay starts, got 83 in six overs with Glenn Maxwell (1/17 in 2 overs), Josh Hazlewood (0/64 in 4 overs) and Mohammed Siraj (0/36 in 2 overs) treated with utter disdain.
While Maxwell did manage to get Dhawan, both Hazlewood and Siraj were guilty of bowling short on a pitch offering true bounce. Bairstow effortlessly pulled and flicked them into the stands and by the time, deliveries pitched up, they landed in the stands as well.
It only helped that the boundary on one side was just 66 metres, a dream for any power-hitter.
Siraj had a forgettable first spell where he was hit for four sixes, while Hazlewood in his first over had gone for 22. The Australian had his worst IPL figures ever.
However, post Powerplay, once Wanindu Hasaranga (2/15 in 4 overs) and Shahbaz Ahmed (1/40 in 4 overs) started operating, RCB stemmed the flow of runs with some tight wicket-to-wicket bowling.
Bengal left-arm spinner Shahbaz was rewarded for his tight lines as Bairstow finally mistimed one and Siraj did well to pouch the skier.
After 83 in the first six, there was a drastic dip in scoring as 22 came in between 7th and 10th overs.
Both Hasaranga and Shahbaz bowled wide outside the off-stump not letting Livingstone and Agarwal to charge down the track.
Still the Englishman managed a couple of sixes and a reverse swept boundary to continue his good form in the competition and then muscled into the stands towards the fag end even as Harshal Patel (4/34 in 4 overs) was exceptional at the death.
His fifty came off 35 balls and by the time he was out, he had four out of those 14 sixes in the Punjab innings.