'Cricket is the real winner' were the chants after a thriller took place between Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings at the Wankhede. Sanju Samson's hundred might have been more than KL Rahul and Deepak Hooda's fifties but it turned out to be four runs short of the two points that really mattered.
Match report in a Tweet
If you are a bowler, don't even go close to the Wankhede as there was some absolute mayhem today with almost 450 runs scored in the game. After a jittery start, it was Punjab Kings who clinched the game in a last ball thriller.
Where PBKS won the game
It was Arshdeep Singh's final over that sealed the game for Punjab as he, defending 13 runs off the final over, gave away just 8 along with the wicket of centurion Sanju Samson on the very last ball of the match.
KL Rahul's flawless transition
There have been a very few better sights than watching KL Rahul batting in full flow and going BANG, BANG in the Powerplay overs. But, now it seems like an age-old story. The right-hander continued to bat excruciatingly slowly as his 'Attack Rating' in the Powerplay dipped from 150, last season, to 126 today, as per CricViz. The PBKS skipper made 15 off 13 in the first six overs. However, what followed that was simply stunning as KL didn't fall in the slow middle-overs batting trap like last year when he would fail to finish with a flourish after eating up deliveries. No wonder his SR had gone down from 158.41 in 2018 to 135.39 in 2019 and turned even poorer at 129.34, last season. Today, post the field restrictions, he took the game on and alongside Deepak Hooda, dealt with RR's bowlers disdainfully. Rahul's strike-rate took a huge jump from 120.1 in the middle-overs, last year, to 208.7 today. He played merely 8.7 percent dot deliveries, which was again phenomenal. As a result, from 15 off 13 at one stage, he ended up with 91 from 50, and exactly did what he had failed to execute the previous season. He can follow today's template going ahead, though with a slight more aggression in the powerplay.
Fight back the Deepak Hooda way
When you are down in your life, perhaps, in your worst phase, you only have two choices to make - either get up, fight it out, or give up and go down the path of obscurity. Deepak Hooda also had two diverging paths, to either go down after the whole 'indiscipline and suspension episode' or fight back. And he rose up from the Ashes in some style. Cometh the opening game against Rajasthan Royals, he channelized all his disappointments into runs with RR bearing the brunt. It was a proper gung-ho approach, full of conviction, as Hooda, a renowned power-hitter in domestic cricket, finally, after years, got that breakthrough innings in the IPL that can make you a household name. It was just a clean and effortless effort on his part. As if the raining sixes were no big deal for him. The right-hander smashed six of them, fairly long. He made full use of the batting promotion, the middle-overs, and brought up his fifty at a strike-rate of 250, to completely turn the tide in Punjab' favor.
Axe Shreyas Gopal
Shreyas Gopal had a breakthrough IPL season in IPL 2019 when he was bamboozling Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers for fun and was taking a bucket load of wickets. But, wait, this ain't 2019, and the Karnataka spinner has been struggling to get wickets for a while now. He had endured a terrible season last year when he could merely pick 10 wickets in 14 games, despite being the team's premier spinner. But he kept getting chances and this is the problem area for the Rajasthan side as he doesn't seem to have improved one bit from the previous season. The leggie was taken to the cleaners by the Punjab batsmen and conceded 40 runs in three overs at 13.3, easily the poorest among all the specialist bowlers. Worst of all, the batsmen had the measure of his variations, and there was just nothing in his repertoire, that looked like getting him a wicket, on a flat wicket. It's high-time when RR overlooks the experienced spinner and addresses its middle-overs woes.
The MVP - Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson, you beauty. After being reduced to 25/2 and then Buttler not playing a big knock, not many gave RR a chance to pull off this heist. But, Samson, as if, he was waiting to script a magical knock on his IPL captaincy debut, held up one end, showed a lot of temperament and kept on hitting the big shots to keep RR in the hunt. Eventually, RR lost out on the game, but it was a remarkable knock, nonethless.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Exciting
Jeez ! It was a thrilling game and kept the viewers on the edge of their seats as something or the other kept on happening in the game. It started slowly but soon picked up pace with Rahul, Gayle and Hooda hammering the bowlers to all the corners of the park. That was not it. There were some brilliant catches, ridiculously easy drops, a collision between players, some amazing bit of bowling and, overall, an intriguing battle between the two sides that kept us hooked throughout.