Jonny Bairstow’s opening blitzkrieg found its ideal match in Liam Livingstone’s finishing carnage as the Punjab Kings completed an imposing 209 for 9 in a must-win IPL game against Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Friday.
While Bairstow laid the groundwork with a 29-ball-66, Livingstone was equally good in his 42-ball-70 as the RCB bowlers had a day they’d love to quickly forget.
Bairstow, who was rusty in the first phase of the tournament, was back in his element with no less than seven sixes and four limits on a shot where he literally went to hell for leather.
Such was his dominance that by the time six Powerplay overs ended, Bairstow had hit seven towering sixes and Shikhar Dhawan (21 from 15 balls) rubbed salt into the wound with another that made eight in all.
The Punjab Kings, who had set Powerplay’s pattern of fiery starts, went 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). ) being treated with total disregard.
While Maxwell managed to get Dhawan, Hazlewood and Siraj were guilty of going short on a field that offered real rebound. Bairstow effortlessly pulled and tossed them into the stands and as deliveries increased they also landed in the stands. It only helped that one side’s limit was only 66 yards, which is a dream for any power hitter.
Siraj had a forgettable first spell where he was hit for four sixes, while Hazlewood in his opening over was gone for 22. The Aussie had his worst IPL numbers ever.
However, after Powerplay, once Wanindu Hasaranga (2/15 in 4 overs) and Shahbaz Ahmed (1/40 in 4 overs) started running, RCB stemmed the rush of runs with tight wicket-to-wicket bowling.
Bengal left arm spinner Shahbaz was rewarded for his tight lines as Bairstow eventually mistimed one and Siraj did well to pocket the skier.
After 83 in the front six, there was a drastic drop in scoring as 22 came in between the 7th and 10th overs.
Hasaranga and Shahbaz both played outside the stump, not letting Livingstone and Agarwal charge down the lane. Still, the Englishman hit a few sixes and a reverse swept boundary to continue his good form in the competition, then muscled up in the stands towards the end of the fag even as Harshal Patel (4/34 in 4 overs) was exceptional at death.
His fifty came out of 35 balls and by the time he was out he had four of those 14 sixes in Punjab’s innings.
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