Lucknow’s batting unit, which struggled to take off on Lucknow’s slow pitch, got a batting pitch equal to Darrot’s in Mohali, where they came out fierce and beat Punjab.
Life is full of contradictions. The match showcased Gambhir, who changed his nature and smiled, and Dhawan, who showed tension on his face, as if explaining it. Accustomed to rolling the ball, Lucknow piled on the runs with a killing appetite and posted the second highest score in IPL history. Avenging the defeat to Punjab in the previous clash this season.
Many people remember the book cricket played as a child. The probability of getting out of the game is less. Whereas the runs go up for fours and sixes. Lucknow’s frenzy in the first half was what it would be like to play such book cricket on a mega scale field. All the batsmen of Lucknow made their batting speak the language of action.
Lucknow failed to score 31 runs in the last 36 balls in the previous match against Gujarat like a student who failed to pass the exam without scoring 35 marks. Lucknow also gave a comeback like if the same failed student scored 100 marks in the next exam. At the end of the last match, KL Rahul had said, “I don’t understand what happened”. It was Lucknow’s batting that had the entire audience repeating the same words throughout the first half of the match. The highest score on this pitch was 240 by CSK in 2008. From the start, Lucknow’s desire to overcome this was evident in every over.
It seems that someone has brainwashed all the batsmen by saying, “You are playing for net run rate, if you win by such a margin, you are guaranteed a play-off chance”. All the incoming batsmen tore the Punjab bowling apart. This is how the Rahul-Mayers combination continued in the first two matches, with the rubber behind erasing all mistakes made by the pencil. A dent from Rahul’s strike was repaired by Meyers. But in the matches that followed, Meyers also started playing like Rahul. As if he had decided to change that, he started by hitting four fours in Arshdeep’s first over. The over was like a small earthquake before the tsunami of destruction. Mayors fled to Punjab in liters of death panic.
Rahul was out on Rabada’s extra bounce and Meyers on the short ball Kannambuchi. However, the powerplay ended with 74 runs. Even these two wickets did not stop Lucknow’s run.
The Stoinis-Badhoni partnership proved to be a foreshadowing as they clashed in the middle overs and scored 89 off 46 balls. They never allowed the run rate to drop below 12 at any point. Earlier Meyers’ fifty came in just 20 balls, while Stoinis’s came a little later (!!) in just 29 balls. But like Meyers, Stoinis’ streak continued.
Badoni’s wicket fell in the 14th over, but Punjab had nothing to gloat about. Because what came next was Puran. Stoinis action continued with him. Pooran started off with a hat-trick of fours and made the whole of Punjab a puncher.
The balls from the Punjab bowlers in tension landed like deflated balloons where they missed line and length. The corresponding punishment was also strong. 15 runs to spare were not the only bad balls. Most of the balls came bearing the words ‘Free Runs’.
Dhawan had a total of seven bowlers to bowl. Out of which only Rahul Sahar bowled with 7.2 economy. The economy of all others had traveled beyond 12. If the field gave Lucknow a hand, Punjab’s poor bowling also gave Lucknow another hand. Crossing 200 with 4 overs remaining, Lucknow were on pace to break RCB’s record for the highest score. Only 22 runs were conceded in the final two overs and both wickets fell somewhat limiting them and posting Lucknow’s 257, the second highest score in IPL history. RCB’s 263 in 2013 continues to top the list.
200 is easily achievable here and Punjab’s strong batting line-up will help it. Drunkenness is also full of snow. Earlier, CSK added 207 runs while chasing Punjab even in the match where they had reached 240 runs. However, chasing 258 is a Herculean Task in its entirety. Because it is difficult to get past the powerplay with a run rate of 13, but a wicket crash is inevitable when trying to run in the same top gear in all the overs. That will prevent the goal from being achieved.
Punjab lost two wickets in the powerplay in their chase. That and Dhawan, who the team relied heavily on, and Prabsimran, who stepped in as an impact player and cemented his place in his absence, were quickly out. 55 runs added in six consecutive overs indicated that the team started with a deficit. However, it was the Atharva-Raza alliance that left fans with a glimmer of hope that the team would not go bankrupt. But in the middle overs, they failed to keep their focus on the wicket on the run rate.
Atharva plundered the balls along with Raza to start a bit slower. However, only 93 runs were scored in 10 overs. Even though there was plenty of corn fritters for the elephant’s ravenous appetite, it was not enough. Chasing 250+ runs, if Punjab had reached at least 120 runs at that point, they would have had little chance in the next half. Punjab’s failure to do so left the required run-rate of 17 frightening. Realizing this, Raza also increased his pace in the 11th over, and Yash Thakur’s short ball got him out in the very next over. Ravi Bishnai’s googly claimed Atharwa’s wicket as well. These two batsmen, who had settled down, got out in quick succession. Indeed, not at this moment, the match had already slipped out of Punjab’s hands. Had one of the power hitters like Livingstone, Sam Karan and Jitesh Sharma been dropped a bit earlier, Punjab would have had at least one runaway chance.
They came in after the 12th over but could not keep up with the required run rate which kept increasing exponentially no matter how hard they tried. Even though the wickets were falling, the bat was swinging without any fear, but the runs were coming, but the scoreboard was showing run swelling like a bucket with holes that could not be filled. That was the gift of defeat for Punjab.
Usually in the run up to such a Himalayan target, most teams suffer a landslide of wickets. In many cases, excessive stress is also the cause. Despite managing it, Punjab lost by 56 runs due to a small setback in the middle. In fact, it is a great thing that Punjab has been able to reach this far. Similarly, it is true that the Punjab batsmen also showed no less intent than Lucknow in the first half.
Lucknow will face RCB in Lucknow in the next match. The million dollar question is whether the same action will continue in Lucknow or will KL Rahul’s peaceful approach be followed as before.