If Friday’s performance is anything to go by, then Harpreet Brar will have a long and outstanding IPL career. Yet, even if he were there for, say, another 15 years and played another 200 or so matches, he might never affect a game as much as he did the encounter with the high-flying Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
And that would be okay. Because in two overs he broke the spine of RCB’s batting, effectively putting an end to whatever prospects they had of completing a successful run chase.
The target was 180, and with RCB’s line-up that is a total well within their reach. Steady bowling by seamers Riley Meredith and Mohammed Shami ensured they never got off to a flying start. Still, there was little cause for them to worry, even when Devdutt Padikkal was bowled by Meredith in the third over with the score on 19.
Brar joined the action to send down the seventh over, and was immediately greeted by a six back over his head off the bat of Virat Kohli. Only four more came from the remainder of that over and seven from the one he bowled after that.
Being tied down somewhat, Kohli ventured down the pitch attempting to hit to the leg side and was bowled on the first ball of Brar’s third over. This was a huge first wicket for the 25-year-old who was playing just his fourth IPL game, his first this season, despite being in his third year in the league.
Next ball he snared another gigantic prey when he spun a delivery past Glen Maxwell’s outside edge to strike the top of his off stump. And with the first ball of his fourth over he induced AB de Villiers to loft a catch to the fielder at extra-cover.
One question heard over and over in the aftermath of Brar’s exploits was this: are there three bigger wickets available to any bowler in the IPL? And to think that Brar captured them during a span of seven deliveries with them having accumulated only 38 runs.
In the end, he had bowing figures of 3/19 off four overs. Considering 17 runs were taken from his first two overs, his third and fourth could well be two of the most consequential overs in the history of the league, in terms of determining the outcome of a game. Not that RCB had no chance after the exit of their big three. But Brar’s monumental strikes would have left Kohli’s team utterly deflated, while the Kings would have been buoyed no end.
Brar had a sidekick. Legbreak and googly specialist Ravi Bishnoi was even more frugal, ending the game with figures of 2/17 off his four overs. Together they spun a web of deceit around the powerful RCB batting unit. In fact, introduced the over before Brar he drew the leash imposed by the opening seamers on Kohli and Patidar even tighter, thereby helping to pave the way for the heroic deeds of his comrade-in-arms.
For sure, Kings’ clinical bowling display would not have been possible had they not set a challenging total for RCB to chase. For that they have to thank captain KL Rahul and the mighty Chris Gayle.
The tall Jamaican went to the crease with the score on 19 during the fourth over, and by the time he faced Kyle Jamieson for the sixth he was two from two balls. When the over ended he was 22, having sent the first four deliveries, along with the sixth, screaming to the boundary. There had been a few murmurs that he was past his best and should probably be dropped. He had, after all, only two decent scores in six games. This innings, therefore, was likely meant to be a riposte to the naysayers from a very proud man.
When on 46, Gayle appeared to be late on a pull shot from a short ball from Daniel Sams. De Villiers was only too happy to accept the catch when the ball was deflected from Gayle’s gloves. The Kings were then 99/2 with two balls left to complete the 11th over.
In the meantime KL Rahul was striking the ball as elegantly and as effortlessly as ever. Early in the piece there was one delivery from Mohammed Siraj on off stump. A gentle flick of the wrist sent it rocketing down the ground to the right of the umpire. He carried on in like manner, batting right through the innings for 91, made off 57 balls with seven fours and five sixes. He is a player of high class and is currently the league’s top run-scorer.
The Kings were pegged back somewhat after the dismissal of Gayle. But so sturdy had been the foundation constructed by Gayle and Rahul that they still managed to reach a challenging total in the end.
Friday’s performance by the Kings was a highly commendable one. They are currently fifth in the standings and have had their troubles this season. But this win, against one of the top outfits in the league, should serve as notice to every other team that the Punjab Kings are not to be trifled with.
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For Capitals, there is a chance of veteran leg-spinner Amit Mishra making a comeback into the playing XI after DC watched Bishnoi get so much success in the past few games.
IPL Live Score: PBKS vs RCB, Match 26, IPL 2021: Get Latest Cricket Score Updates on the 26th IPL Today Match between Punjab Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore at Firstpost
Though Mumbai are known to defend low totals, Punjab were clinical in the run chase and got the job done in 17.4 overs.