Punjab Kings bowlers stuck to their task with the ball and then, with the bat, Sikandar Raza hit a crucial 41-ball 57 to defeat Lucknow Super Giants by two wickets at the Ekana International Stadium in Lucknow on Saturday.
The Super Giants, after being put into bat, scored 159/8 with skipper KL Rahul top-scoring with 74 off 56 balls. Thereafter, Raza, the Zimbabwe international of Pakistani origin, unleashed his shots before M. Shahrukh Khan (23 not out off 10 balls) held his nerves in the final over to hit a boundary off Ravi Bishnoi over cover and seal the game for the Punjab Kings with three balls to spare.
Credit has to be given to all-rounder and stand-in captain Sam Curran (3/31) — as regular captain Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out with a shoulder niggle — who was the pick of the Punjab Kings bowlers while Kagiso Rabada too did well, taking 2/34 off his four overs.
Rahul and Krunal Pandya were trying to regain some momentum for the Super Giants with their third-wicket partnership. At 110/2 in the 15th over, Krunal was caught at deep square leg by Shahrukh, who showed excellent control and timed his jump perfectly to take the catch.
That was Rabada’s first wicket. The South Africa pace spearhead then removed the in-form Nicholas Pooran off his very next delivery. Curran got into the act thereafter to check the Super Giants.
Rahul hit eight fours and a six in his first half-century of this IPL, his strike rate was also better than the previous games. But was it good enough?