Punjab Kings 180 for 8 (Livingstone 60, Dhawan 33, Jordan 2-23) beat Chennai Super Kings 126 (Dube 57, Chahar 3-25, Livingstone 2-25) with 54 runs
Despite an early trend towards winning games during the chase, this was the third game in a row to see a total successful defense. Midway through, Super Kings may have been the happier side, after dragging Kings back from a score of 109 for 2 with one ball of the tenth to go, but signs that their innings may not have been the walk expected was when Chris Jordan, who was 2 for 23 with an excellent death-bowling display, noted with surprise the lack of evening dew.
Super Kings had to go at nine o’clock on a Brabourne surface that looked good to hit, but Super Kings quickly ran into trouble when the Kings seam attack punched holes in their top order. Kagiso Rabada, Arora and Arshdeep Singh all struck in the power play, and when Ambati Rayudu was caught acrobatic by another debutant, wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma, from a vicious Odean Smith lifter in the eighth over, the match was almost over as a match.
From 36 to 5, Super Kings were indebted to Shivam Dube’s 30-ball 57 for holding onto the tails of the asking price. But Livingstone hit two balls in two to continue the good night work and when MS Dhoni came out ninth at the start of the 18th, caught behind for a grueling 23 out of 28, the mold was really up.
Livi lets fly
Picked up for a price of 11.5 crore INR (USD 1.53 million) in the February auction, after a stellar year in T20 competitions around the world, Livingstone was still waiting for a performance to match his billing at the IPL. He eventually produced under the lights in Mumbai and took the offense back to Super Kings after wickets left Kings 14 for 2 in each of the first two overs.
Livingstone’s aggression was the main reason why Kings took the second highest power play score of the season so far (Super Kings conceded the top two). Left-arm swing bowler Mukesh Choudhary carried the heaviest, conceding 34 runs out of 12 balls delivered to Livingstone – his third more than just cost 26. Three times Livingstone made room to whip sixes to the short leg side border – one of them a monster 108 meters long, while also crashing Choudhary before four, over cover (twice) and past a short third.
With Shikhar Dhawan finding his groove by taking over three limits from Dwayne Bravo’s introductory run, Kings were up and running at 72 to 2 after six.
However, Super Kings should have removed Livingstone in the first over after the power play. After dancing down to drop Jadeja’s first ball into view screen for his fourth six, he cut the last ball from the over-straight to short third – but Rayudu, despite having time to settle under it, picked a simple chance. In the next over, a thin rim down the leg side of Dwaine Pretorius was held by Dhoni, only for the keeper to press the ball into his glove tips as he ducked to the left.
Livingstone duly delivered his first IPL half-century, from 27 balls, a few overs later, via a swat to the top at Bravo sailing over a fine leg. The Englishman’s previous highest score in the competition was 44 from 26 balls, made in his second game for the Rajasthan Royals in 2019, and he had since played nine innings without passing 25.
A 95-run tie between Livingstone and Dhawan had Kings on track for the 200-plus score they might need to feel safe. But after Dhawan tricked Bravo to the edge of the ring from the last ball of the tenth over, and Livingstone this time was taken by Rayudu in short third in Jadeja’s next, the innings stumbled to an unsatisfactory conclusion in the face of a solid bowling dead from Jordan, playing his first match for Super Kings and Dwaine Pretorius.
Jordan had started well, avoiding the early carnage to pull in two power playovers at a cost of 13 runs. He then grabbed 2 for 10 while bowling the 16th and 18th, hitting a yorker length repeatedly, forcing Shahrukh Khan and Smith to take over the longer leg side limit in vain. Sharma’s cameo aside, Kings missed a batter to finish the innings, managing to cobble 71 for 5 from their last ten overs.
Gaikwad sets the tone
The epitome of the champions’ struggle was the form of Ruturaj Gaikwad, last season’s winner of the orange cap. For the third game in a row, Gaikwad only lasted four balls and got no further than 1; here he could have caught from both his second and third balls, before Rabada finally pulled a thick outer rim to slip out of the last ball of the second. With Robin Uthappa leading two balls later, Moeen Ali cut through in the fifth and Jadeja also threw off an inside rim, Super Kings had started the kind of horror from which their pursuit could never recover.
Kings debutants shine
The discussion prior to Kings’ third game was about how to get Jonny Bairstow on their side. In the end, the veteran English batter was not needed, and it was two men who handed over their IPL caps for the toss that stood out. Sharma made a confident start with the bat, sweeping his second ball, from Moeen, for six and landed similar blows to Choudhary and Jadeja in a sparkling 26 out of 17; he later added a stunning hold to sack Rayudu, and was the driving force in Kings reviewing to get Dhoni caught down the leg side of Rahul Chahar.
Arora, meanwhile, sparkled during an opening spell in which he threw his four overs off the reel. The 24-year-old let the new ball move either way, with Rayudu taking over in his second halfway through before skipping Moeen in his third, leaving his numbers 2-0-12-2. Arora success, you might say.
Alan Gardner is deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick