Shikhar Dhawan went through a fine half-century when the error-prone Punjab Kings finally produced a clinical feat to beat Gujarat Titans by eight wickets and end the five-match winning streak of the IPL table leaders here on Tuesday. Pacer Kagiso Rabada took four wickets when Punjab Kings narrowed the formidable Gujarat Titans to an undersized 143 for eight after Hardik Pandya chose to bat first. Punjab, who made a mess of what should have been an uncomplicated pursuit in their last game, learned from their mistakes to speed the innings much better and win the goal in 16 overs.
Dhawan (62 not out on 53 balls) scored his third half century of the season and got good support from Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa (40 out of 28), who entertained with five fours and a six.
As one of the senior batters in the squad, Dhawan took responsibility for finishing the game for his team, which he did with gusto.
Skipper Mayank Agarwal dropped the order to receive Jonny Bairstow (1) at the top of the order, but the move didn’t work.
However, the 87-run tie between the left-handers, Dhawan and Rajapaksa, saw Punjab come home comfortably.
Liam Livingstone (30 not out on 10) gave a brutal punch towards the end of the chase, crushing Indian leader Mohammad Shami for four sixes, including a monstrous 117-yard strike over a deep square leg. The 16th over for 30 runs also gave a big boost to PBKS’ net run rate.
It was a much needed win for Punjab, who struggled for consistency with five wins and as many losses this season.
For Gujarat, who are on the cusp of making it to the playoffs, it was a timely wake-up call to solve their batting problems, especially at the top of the standings. They’ve had one or the other to rescue them from difficult situations, but Tuesday wasn’t the case.
Previously, Sai Sudharsan’s unbeaten 65 of 50 balls saved the day in Gujarat’s innings as Punjab bowlers gave up just 11 fours and two sixes.
Sudarsan managed to hit five borders and a six, but ran out of partners when Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya’s decision to opt for bat backfired.
They lost to openers Shubman Gill (9) and Wriddhiman Saha (21) cheaply. Gill, who had crossed two lines, was fired courtesy of a direct hit by Rishi Dhawan from cover, in the third over.
In the next over, Saha, who started aggressively, gave a sitter halfway through to rival captain Mayank Agawral, giving Rabada (4/33) his first wicket. Saha, who had hit three boundaries and a six, was undone by the extra bounce when he tried to play a loft shot but timed it wrong and paid the price.
Gujarat dropped further to 44/3 when pacer Rishi Dhawan (1/26) removed Hardik (1) early. Hardik tried to drive an outside the off-length ball, but ended up with a hitch to wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma, putting his team in all sorts of trouble.
Next, Sudharsan and David Miller (11) tried to rack up the innings, but managed to add just 23 runs in 30 balls.
It turned 67/4 after Liam Livingstone (1/15) sacked Miller, who botched a lofty drive to be caught by Rabada in the long-off.
Sudharshan tried to change gears from 11th, when he pulled Livingstone to his first limit, but he couldn’t free his arms very often.
Rabada further cemented Gujarat by removing Rahul Tewatia (11) and Rashid Khan (0) in consecutive deliveries in the 17th over, reeling GT at 112/6.
Rabada capped off a memorable spell by firing Lockie Ferguson (5).
For Punjab, Sandeep Sharma (0/17), Arshdeep Singh (1/35), Rahul Chahar (0/11) and Livingstone also played their roles perfectly.