KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal laid the platform with a steady 91-run stand in Punjab Kings’ run-chase of 165 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah on Sunday. However, lack of middle-order contributions resulted in PBKS’ downfall yet again, handing them their eighth defeat of the season.
Rahul (39) and Agarwal (57) kept up with the required rate, with the latter playing the aggressor in a 65-ball 91-run opening partnership. However, Nicholas Pooran (3), Aiden Markram (20) and Sarfaraz Khan (0) provided little impetus in the middle overs, as the pressure of the required rate kept mounting on.
Shahrukh Khan (16 off 11) and Moises Henriques (12* off 9) struck some lusty blows towards the end, but that wasn’t enough for the Kings to deny RCB their eighth win of the season.
Rahul couldn’t be more disappointed with the team’s batting performance on the day, and through the season.
"I wouldn't say I haven't enjoyed wearing it (the Orange Cap) but I would have been happier if we had qualified. It was a score that was par. Maybe 10-15 runs extra. When a guy like Maxwell comes in with that sort of form, it makes it difficult," he said after the match.
But with the bat, the last couple of years have been disappointing. If I have to be honest, our batting has let us down. I'll be lying if I say it doesn't play on my mind that I play a role that the team demands. It's not something that I enjoy, but when you lead the team, you have to accept the responsibility.
“In T20, the top two or three do score a bulk of the runs. You won't have people in the middle order scoring 500-600 runs. But we have missed someone in the middle who scores those 30-40 quick runs. Shahrukh and some of the other Indian young guys have been going well."
Mathematically, Punjab Kings still stand an outside chance to finish fourth, subject to other results in the league. They will play table-toppers Chennai Super Kings in their last league fixture on Thursday, October 7, in Dubai.