SKY Falls on Punjab as Mumbai Pull off Epic Chase

Three years ago, in Sharjah, in an IPL tournament held while the world was still hostage to Covid-19, Kings XI Punjab – as they team was known then – made 223-2 after batting first. Rajasthan Royals chased it down with three balls to space. In Mohali, their home turf, lightning struck again. This time, it wasn’t Steve Smith, Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia pulling the rug from under them. It was Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma, and this time, they lost with a whopping seven balls remaining. It was the kind of win, and loss, that can change the course of a team’s season. Here are our takeaways from the match.

SKY is clear again

During Suryakumar’s recent lean patch, which included international matches and the start of the IPL, it would have been tempting for many a sub-editor to go for a “Skyfall” headline. But here’s the thing. Skyfall is a James Bond movie. And no matter how much he suffers through the movie, or whatever challenges are thrown his way, Bond always prevails. And after knocks of 57 (26 balls), 23 (12), 55 (29) and 66 (31) in consecutive games, talk of a SKY slump suddenly seems ridiculous. His ability to manipulate the field makes him a fielding captain’s nightmare. At one point, Shikhar Dhawan brought in the man from deep square leg. You can guess where the next shot went. He doesn’t have the raw power of some of the others in the Mumbai Indians line-up, but his mastery of angles and ability to deflect the ball to wherever he pleases is unmatched in the modern game.

Incredible Ishan

Everyone else in the Mumbai top six is either tall, strapping or both. Ishan Kishan is neither. But he doesn’t half pack a punch. His takedown of Arshdeep Singh when he returned to bowl his second over, with the game still in the balance – was just brutal. The six over midwicket was a monster hit, but the two most eye-catching strokes were straight down the ground. Both times, Arshdeep went for the yorker, which he bowls better than most in the league. He didn’t miss by much on either occasion. The shots Kishan played were astonishing. He didn’t just hit the balls back over Arshdeep’s head, he smashed them as though he had Mjölnir, Thor’s Hammer, in his hand. There were fielders at long-on and long-off, but they could barely move a few steps before the balls had crossed the rope.

Also Read: Hyderabad Host Kolkata With Trap-door Open

Pace aces letting Punjab down

Arshdeep, who has otherwise been outstanding, had a poor outing in Mohali. But the bigger concern for Punjab is surely the form of their marquee fast bowlers, Kagiso Rabada and Sam Curran. Rabada didn’t even make the XI, and has five wickets from four games, while conceding 9.75 an over. Curran was player of the tournament when England won the T20 World Cup in Australia late last year, but he has taken just seven wickets in 10 outings in the IPL. The 41 he conceded in his three overs against Mumbai took his economy rate for the tournament to 9.90. As well as Punjab bat, there will be no play-off spot with such bowling.

Livingstone-Jitesh didn’t deserve to lose

The SKY-Kishan partnership will get all the headlines after Mumbai’s win, but there was an even brisker stand earlier in the game. As he gets back up to speed, it’s easy to understand why Punjab Kings were willing to wait for Liam Livingstone to get back to full fitness a few games into the season. When he starts teeing off, few boundaries are big enough to contain him. As for Jitesh Sharma, more than a few astute cricket-watcher have spoken of him as a potential option for India’s limited-overs side in future. Between them, they added an unbroken 119 – three more than SKY-Kishan, and in two fewer deliveries. The three Livingstone swats for six down the ground when Jofra Archer returned for his final over were breathtaking. It’s testament to Jitesh’s quality that he matched his more illustrious teammate stroke for stroke.

Spin twins win it for Mumbai

In a game where almost every other bowler copped a beating, Piyush Chawla and Kumar Kartikeya were central to Mumbai finishing on the winning side. Chawla had Shikhar Dhawan stumped when he looked in ominous touch, but more importantly, he and Kartikeya bowled their seven overs for 53 runs – less than eight an over. The combined economy rate for the other bowlers in the match? 11.42!

We need to talk about Archer

Mumbai are hardly going to press the panic button, especially when results continue to fall their way. And the team management will doubtless be understanding of the hurdles that Archer has had to surmount just to get back on the park. But so far, it just hasn’t clicked. Four matches, two wickets, and an economy rate of 10.37. Yes, the pace at which he bowls means that most edges and miscues fly to the rope. But when you’re the team’s pace spearhead, you need to do much more. The Australian duo of Jason Behrendorff and Riley Meredith were benched after leaking runs. So far, Archer hasn’t been able to stem the flow either. 

Also Read: KL Rahul Out of IPL 2023?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *